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London Has Fallen: Crash, boom, bam

“How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?” Those immortal words were spoken by Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2 (1990) – little did he know there would be more sequels – and the sentiment could easily apply to London Has Fallen, the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen (2013).

How could ace Secret Service agent Gerard Butler and stiff-jawed President Aaron Eckhart again be facing terrorists? The first film made money, that’s why.

Last time, the White House (“Olympus”) was blown up by Korean terrorists. This time, as the title hints rather forcibly, London gets laid waste by (mostly) Islamic extremists, a diabolical scheme masterminded by international arms dealer Alon Moni Aboutboul, who isn’t onscreen much and doesn’t make a terribly threatening heavy.

Once again, Eckhart’s Benjamin Asher, the Commanderin-Chief, is thrust into harm’s way, but he’s aided, abetted and repeatedly rescued by Butler’s indestructible Mike Banning who, if anything, kills more bad guys in this film than in the first – but who’s counting?

Among the English landmarks blown to CGI bits are St. Paul’s Cathedral, Chelsea Bridge, Victoria Tower and Parliament. Thankfully, Big Ben manages to avoid destruction.

Back at the White House, Morgan Freeman as the Vice President (upped from Speaker of the House since his predecessor met his demise in Olympus) — and his thinktank, including Jackie Earle Haley and Olympus holdovers/ survivors Robert Forster and Melissa Leo, wait, watch and worry. The number of days these talented actors worked likely parallels the number of lines they have, which are in the low single digits. Still, they add star power, and so long as the checks cleared … actors have to work too, you know. Olympus alumni Angela Bassett (Secret Service director) and Radha Mitchell (Banning’s bride) also encore.

It’s impossible to call London Has Fallen a good movie.

The characters and story are one-dimensional – the Americans are true-blue, the British (for the most part) are stalwart but hapless, the terrorists unmitigated sadists. Yet director Babak Najafi keeps things moving, and the film certainly doesn’t skimp on action. It may be stupid, but it’s never dull, and the audiences who made Olympus Has Fallen a hit are certainly expecting that. (You think they were expecting art?) Butler, also one of the film’s producers, enjoys – if that’s the word – some eye-rolling one-liners, many delivered while pummeling or stabbing his attackers. After one such instance, he is asked if it was really necessary. “No” is the reply.

The same sentiment might be applied to the (notterribly-pressing) question: Was London Has Fallen really necessary? No. Not really. !

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