London Has Fallen is a 2016 action film directed by Babak Najafi and stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman. It is a film that is categorised as an action film and one that primarily deals with the concept of terrorism and the United States of America’s handling of such “threats” (this use of quotation marks will be explained further below).
The main plot of London Has Fallen centres on the death of the British Prime Minister and the attendance of all the world’s leaders to his funeral in London. Of all the world leaders in attendance, the most prominent and most “important”, as often depicted in other similar fictional tales, is none other than the President of the United States. He insists on attending the funeral and as a result, security measures and protocols are put together quickly, with Gerard Butler’s character, Mike, being in charge of protecting the President (played by Aaron Eckhart).
Naturally, what happens next is easily predictable and was even given away through various promotional means, the title of the film and the main actor. London Has Fallen clearly depicts the notion that something goes wrong in London (naturally, in a film about world leaders gathering in one spot) leading to the fall of the great British city. As per all his other films, Gerard Butler plays action hero to the rescue and goes to work to protect the President.
London Has Fallen brings about some interesting ideas about terrorism, stereotypical casting, and the United States’ involvement. One of the first few things I picked up on is that films such as this don’t portray people of Arabic/Middle Eastern descent as being anything but bad guy terrorists, arms dealers, smugglers and the like. How often do you come across a film where an Arab, Asian, or an Indian is depicted as the the main character and hero who saves the day in an English/Western action flick? More often than not, actors of these ethnicities are given sidekick, background or evil roles to play. They almost always lose and never get the girl. I understand that Western films are tailored toward Westerners but in this day and age of globalisation and equality, one would think that actors of other ethnicities would be given leading roles. We’ve made great strides in including those of African American descent, why not other ethnicities?
Another thought is how people of Arabic origin will take to films like London Has Fallen? Would they not feel terrible about blockbuster films, which are consumed by millions, branding them as threats to society?
With regards to the film itself, London Has Fallen doesn’t surprise nor is it cinematically outstanding. Sure the visual effects are great, especially the scenes of prominent London landmarks being destroyed, however nothing really stood out. The story is tired and one that has been recycled throughout film history.
In terms of characters, I admit that Gerard Butler does pull off the bad ass bodyguard shtick well and Aaron Eckhart is reasonably believable as President. Morgan Freeman, however, lacked his usual sass. A little disappointing I must admit. I personally would have liked a lot more depth but films such as London Has Fallen can only handle so much drama, significant messages and emotional undertones.
It is a film predominantly made for ‘boys’ who, stereotypically, are only interested in explosions, car chases and guns. I did notice though that there was one key ingredient missing from a film such as this, romance. Gerard Butler didn’t have a damsel in distress to rescue. Perhaps the romance in this film was meant to be in the bromance between Gerard Butler’s and Aaron Eckhart’s characters.
All in all, London Has Fallen is a film that I could have done without. Apart from bringing in questions of racism and stereotypes to the forefront of my mind, London Has Fallen did not really inspire any kind of emotion or feeling in me. Having sat through the entire film, I can certainly say that this one is more for the boys. Ladies, treat yourself to something nice instead. There isn’t much in it for you. Not even decent eye candy (in my opinion anyway).