Editor’s Notes: London Has Fallen opens in wide theatrical release today.
Anyone looking for irrefutable proof that we are, in fact, living in the “darkest timeline” imaginable need look no further than London Has Fallen, the oddly unanticipated sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, the first of two 2013 terrorism-flavored, White House-related action films (the other being Roland Emmerich’s far superior, but alas, also far more costly, Channing Tatum and Jamie-Foxx-starring White House Down released several months later). While White House Down’s middling box office returns quickly ended any talk of a Die Hard-style series, however merited (and it was), a sequel to Olympus Has Fallen did get the greenlight, not because it was a box-office hit (or even what most box-office observers would call a hit), but simply because it was (a) inexpensively made, and (b) made just enough commercially to guarantee a return on investment for its producers. And thus, here we are, with reruns of White House Down relegated to late-night cable and a sequel to Olympus Has Fallen opening at multiplexes across this great country of ours (also other, less great countries elsewhere).
Not surprisingly, London Has Fallen fully embraces drone warfare even as it pays lip service in the final moments to the avoidance of civilian casualties. . .
After saving the president, Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), not to mention Western democracy and civilization from North Korean terrorists in Olympus Has Fallen, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), still has the prime spot as Asher’s No. 1 protector from the non-Caucasian evils of the world, but a life of comfortable, if dull, domesticity awaits him and his now pregnant wife, Leah (Radha Mitchell). He’s all set to resign from his post and become a dutiful, obliging house husband when the sudden, unexpected, but definitely natural death of the British PM forces him back into service for one last detail. The PM’s relatively high position in the international pecking order among politicians means the UK will be flooded with world leaders, 40 in total, along with their security details, in just a handful of days. While Banning balks at the lack of prep time, political expediency wins the day and Banning joins Asher along with Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett), his boss, and a small detail of mostly faceless, most definitely expendable secret service agents.
The president’s detail barely makes it to Westminster Abbey for the British PM’s funeral when a massive, extremely well-coordinated, well-funded, simultaneous terrorist attack derails the funeral. In short order, most of Western Europe’s leaders lose their lives, leaving Asher as the sole survivor and major target for the terrorist group (more like an army) organized and led by Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul), a revenge-minded, super-wealthy arms dealer. He’s Middle Eastern, of course, but his motivations (greed and revenge) aren’t what could be described as openly ideological. He’s not an Islamic extremist, though his eldest son, Kamran (Waleed Zuaiter), uses the terror tools (e.g., public executions) currently associated with any number of Middle Eastern terrorist groups, including ISIS (or DAESH, to be slightly more correct naming convention wise). Specifically, the Barkawi clan wants revenge for a drone strike that left members of their family dead. Not surprisingly, London Has Fallen fully embraces drone warfare even as it pays lip service in the final moments to the avoidance of civilian casualties (“collateral damage” by another, deeply offensive euphemism).
London Has Fallen’s central message is a simple one: Fear brown people, especially brown people from Middle Eastern countries.
Sidestepping ideological extremism is, at least on the surface, a smart move, deflecting and/or possibly defusing any objections Muslim communities in Western countries might make to London Has Fallen’s politics. Of course, it doesn’t. Brown people are, once again, evil, motivated by barbaric, primitive instincts, practically non-human or, at best, secondarily human, unfit to live with or among Western (read: White) communities. The organized terrorist attack at the center of London Has Fallen more than suggests that Muslim communities are rife with terrorists and their enablers. Given the scale and scope of the attack, an attack involving several hundred (or more) attackers, each one apparently trained and somehow imported into the UK without the UK’s security apparatus knowing or finding out, it’s difficult, if not impossible to conclude London Has Fallen’s central message is a simple one: Fear brown people, especially brown people from Middle Eastern countries. Don’t let them into your country out of a misguided, misplaced sense of charity, compassion, or humanitarianism. If you do, they’ll blow up your country and cause untold pain, misery, and grief to innocent Westerners.
Then again, Olympus Has Fallen practically had the same message: Just swap out the North Korean “others” with Middle Eastern “others” and you’re good to go. Given the brutality and barbarism of the terrorists in both films, Banning’s asymmetrical response makes all the more sense: Answer barbarism and brutality with barbarism and brutality of your own. Just make sure you win and they don’t (i.e., “by any means necessary”). As repugnant and offensive a message as that might be – and there should be little doubt that it’s firmly both – London Has Fallen’s action scenes are just as sub-par and mediocre, primarily due to unfinished, under-rendered visual effects courtesy of a limited budget. That’s not likely to stop fans of Olympus Has Fallen from venturing to their local multiplex this weekend to catch the unnecessary, repellent sequel, but it’s one among many reasons why it should be.
London Has Fallen’s action scenes are sub-par and mediocre, primarily due to unfinished, under-rendered visual effects courtesy of a limited budget. That’s not likely to stop fans of Olympus Has Fallen from venturing to their local multiplex this weekend to catch the unnecessary, repulsive sequel, but it’s one among many reasons why it should be.