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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

London Has Fallen movie review: agitprop security theater

London Has Fallen red light

A Nuremberg rally for 21st-century America. Pure terror porn: racist, jingoistic, thoroughly obnoxious. Donald Trump voters will love it. *sob*
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): hated the first movie

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

If only all those other stupid countries — you know, like Germany and the U.K. — could be as awesome as America. After the British prime minister dies suddenly and mysteriously, world leaders summoned to London for the funeral, allegedly “the most protected event on Earth,” come under terrorist attack. The only survivor among them is U.S. president Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart: My All American, I, Frankenstein), thanks to impossibly badass Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler: How to Train Your Dragon 2, Chasing Mavericks), even though Banning concedes that he is made of nothing more than “bourbon and poor choices.” (One wonders what all those failed non-American security people could possibly be made of: cotton candy?) Now Asher and Banning are on the run in a locked-down London because the bad guys want to capture the president and execute him live on the Internet. Because that could happen.

London Has Fallen isn’t a movie: it’s a Nuremberg rally for 21st-century America in which drone warfare is righteous because swarthy brown terrorists are almost supernaturally powerful, and yet also ultimately no match for the U! S! A! U! S! A! It is laughably beyond preposterous, all the security lapses in every single British service, from MI-6 right down to the NHS ambulance corps, that is required for the army of angry anti-Western but primarily anti-American terrorists to pull off stupendously coordinated multiple attacks across a geographically sprawling world city. Though even the terrorists cannot deny the superiority of American technology: look at all the Macintosh PowerBooks prominently arrayed among their info-arsenal!

Of course, the Brits are not American; all the pitying glances and asides thrown around by the likes of Secret Service director Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett: Survivor, This Means War) for her U.K. counterparts are akin to that of a patient parent generously tolerating the best efforts of a slow but beloved child. Isn’t it cute how the Brits are trying? So sweet of them. Even though the script — by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt (who together wrote Olympus Has Fallen and contributed to The Expendables 3), Christian Gudegast (A Man Apart), Chad St. John — has Asher calling the U.K. “our oldest and strongest ally” (although he’s wrong: that would be France), London still feels comfortable lobbing huge insults in that direction… but then again, the big bully always knows it can get away with kicking its best toady. I wonder if this is why even some among the British cast here — such as Colin Salmon (Doctor Who, The Bank Job) as one of the security honchos and Charlotte Riley (In the Heart of the Sea, Edge of Tomorrow) as an MI-6 agent — sound as if they are faking their own real British accents. Are they embarrassed to be here? Or have they drunk the movie’s Kool-Aid and are embarrassed to be British? (Brit Butler’s own Scottish accent is nowhere in earshot, of course.)

The rallying cry of London Has Fallen? The astonishing aptitude of the terrorists is meant to leave a fear-mongered audience pissing in its pants and hungry for blood, and certain that only America has the balls and the brains and the firepower to smash them all. Big congrats to Iranian-Swedish director Babak Najafi (Easy Money: Hard to Kill) on his first English-language film, which enables a political and cultural environment in which Hillary Clinton, who has said, “We can nuke Iran if we want to” (only a slight paraphrase), can be considered the “reasonable” presidential candidate. Even more vile than its outrageously propagandistic progenitor, Olympus Has Fallen, this is pure terror porn: racist, jingoistic, thoroughly obnoxious. Donald Trump voters will love it. *sob*


red light half a star

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London Has Fallen (2016)
US/Can release: Mar 04 2016
UK/Ire release: Mar 03 2016

MPAA: rated R for strong violence and language throughout
BBFC: rated 15 (strong violence, threat, injury detail, strong language)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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