Movie review: London Bridge is falling down and other assorted mayhem

What It’s About

A slice-and-dice video game masquerading as a movie, “London Has Fallen” is non-stop mayhem and macho posturing.

A no-frills basic plot pits Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) against generic global terrorists as a diabolical plan to assassinate world leaders is carried out in London.

The President (Aaron Eckhart) avoids multiple attempts on his life, thanks to Banning’s derring-do, but can he survive as danger escalates and there is no safe place? And just who is that sinister traitor mole?

The body count is ginormous, as explosions, car chases and shootouts are plentiful. Story is sacrificed for ingenious and gruesome ways to carve people up. Stock characters are merely cardboard cut-outs of high-ranking U.S. government officials, good soldiers and nefarious foreigners with shifty eyes.


Eckhart (“The Dark Knight”) and Butler (“Gods of Egypt”) reprise their roles as the President and protector in this follow-up to 2013 “Olympus Has Fallen.” They work well together in that buddy movie way, liberally using the F-word — the President cusses!

But, let’s face it, Butler has made one good movie in 10 years — “Coriolanus” in 2011, although he is more suited to these “Die Hard” knockoffs than the insipid romantic comedies of yore.

Oscar winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) lends creedence as the vice president, his rich voice comforting Americans watching all the horror on their TV screens.

Utterly wasted in a perfunctory cabinet role as Secretary of Defense is Oscar winner Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”) — although nice touch it’s a woman — and in military official parts are Oscar nominees Jackie Earle Haley (“Little Children”) and Robert Forster (“Jackie Brown”).

What Works

With an efficient run time of 99 minutes, director Babak Najafi wastes no time cutting to the chases and landmarks blow up in that tantalizing gawker way — see the London Bridge fall down!

This is what it is. If you like pure adrenalin rush action and no-frills good vs. bad scenario, then this is your type of movie.

What Doesn’t Work

There is no subtlety or emotional depth. Much of the action takes place at night, on dark streets or in unlit buildings.

The dialogue, which could have been written by a robot and not four credited screenwriters, consists of tough-guy talk, fatherly advice from POTUS to expectant dad — who just works too hard and needs to slow down, and defiant rah-rah jingoism.

But if you like lots of firepower and evil enemies being outsmarted, “London Has Fallen” aims to please.

  • Director: Babak Najafi
  • Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell, Jackie Earle Haley and Melissa Leo
  • Rated R (strong violence and language throughout)
  • 99 minutes