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Film review: London Has Fallen – only American lives matter in this racist thriller

Gerard Butler returns in crass action-thriller sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen that is ideologically deplorable, yet so bombastic it may well enthral less sophisticated viewers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 March, 2016, 8:10pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 March, 2016, 8:20pm

Gerard Butler returns as a one-man killing machine in London Has Fallen, which plays like a video game of deplorable politics. Directed by Iranian-born, Swedish filmmaker Babak Najafi, who apparently hasn’t mellowed from his adolescent past as an Iran-Iraq war refugee, this casually xenophobic action thriller would require fantastical conviction in American supremacy, if not a perverted desire for excessive, racist brutality to be viewed as in any way enjoyable.

A sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, which imagined an astonishingly effective terrorist attack on the White House, this rehash of the same premise again features Aaron Eckhart putting on a brave face befitting an American president, Morgan Freeman’s vice-president looking aghast at the emergency room’s giant screens, and heads of state being unceremoniously murdered in a surreal urban warfare scenario set amidst various historical landmarks.

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When president Benjamin Asher (Eckhart) and his team show up at the state funeral of the UK prime minister, it all turns out to be part of a set-up by a Pakistani arms dealer (Alon Moni Aboutboul) to avenge his daughter, killed in a bombing two years earlier. As London goes up in flames, Benjamin narrowly becomes the last national leader standing – thanks to agent Mike Banning (Butler), who has the great wisdom to keep their arrival time secret.

Despite an opening-scene drone strike that suggests violence breeds violence, the tone-deaf film instead conveniently portrays the villains as IS-like Middle Eastern figures obsessed with broadcasting Benjamin’s execution. Which is just as well: it happens to be Mike’s forte to single-handedly defeat a terrorist army. London Has Fallen is so ideologically deplorable, yet so bombastic, that it may well enthral the less sophisticated among its viewers.

London Has Fallen opens on March 3

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