Alex Casey is a staff writer for New Zealand pop culture-obsessed website The Spinoff and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Movie review: London Has Fallen

It’s ridiculous, but the action doesn’t stop, from the start to the finish.
London has Fallen starring Gerard Butler.
London has Fallen starring Gerard Butler.

We are living in a time when Donald Trump is far too close to being the leader of the free world, something that seems a joke at first but quickly turns into a terrifying truth about the state of things. Everyone is scared of every unattended bag and pockets of pop culture are feeding off this fear like a starved Dementor from Harry Potter. That leads to films like London Has Fallen dominating the box office and becoming the number one film in the country.

The sequel to 2013's Olympus Has Fallen, Gerard Butler is back as Secret Agent Mike Banning. He claims to be made of "Bourbon and bad decisions" and is a dab hand at destroying terrorists during what seems like far-too-frequent attacks on the President. This time around, the shock death of the British Prime Minister has led to the most powerful leaders of the Western world assembling for a state funeral in London. Probably a walk in the park, right? A good old catch-up, right? Wrong.

Cue the most absurd, overblown and intricately executed attack the planet has ever seen. Fake police officers open fire on their own and ambulance officers throw grenades.

I wouldn't have blinked if the friendly local postie suddenly wheeled out a machine gun.

Slowly but surely, every single powerful person present is eradicated in their various locations across the city. Everyone except the President of the USA (Aaron Eckhart) protected by old bourbon-made Banning.

London Has Fallen felt like a pitch-perfect parody of the hysteria around terror or a truly terrifying piece of xenophobic propaganda. If you choose to laugh at the irony of it, you'll probably have a great time.

Nothing can stop Butler from cracking jokes in the midst of global chaos. While waiting for a party of machine gun-wielding terrorists to break into their room, he makes a joke about the President being gay and "coming out of the closet" that he was hiding in.

Worse still, he tells the terrorists to go back to "F***istan", which made me wince.

I'll give it this, the action sequence lasts for the whole film and is relentless. From the moment the first bomb goes off, the audience is thrown in with the President on a horrible journey into what is sure to be a grisly and painful death for all involved. Cars are laden with shrapnel and bullet holes, helicopters are shot down and a bridge in London does fall down, well and truly. If you squint a little and forgive some of the terrible CGI, it's an awe-inspiring series of disaster set pieces.

Outside of Eckhart and Butler, you won't find too much in the way of gripping performances. The many nameless, faceless villains from the fictional middle-Eastern village of F***istan are all shot in the face before they get their lines out. Morgan Freeman as Speaker Allan Turnbull does a good job of furrowing his brow and looking at some TV screens, but everyone outside of the action is absolutely helpless and at the mercy of the attackers.

I came out of London Has Fallen with the same feeling I have coming off a rickety roller coaster - I was glad I didn't die during the process. It was an exhilarating and ridiculous journey and I will guiltily admit that I enjoyed some of the non-stop, overblown action.

Just don't go into it expecting a measured, diplomatic approach to current world tensions. Instead, imagine Donald Trump is barking directions from behind the camera, gently stroking his hairpiece. You've got to laugh about it or you'll probably cry.

Showing now, rated R16

- Spy.co.nz

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