I remember catching Olympus Has Fallen on Netflix a while back and being pleasantly surprised. It was a pretty mindless adventure but it had some great action moments and a surprising amount of charm. When I heard it was being given a sequel, I had a bit of hesitation. How could they make it bigger? Better? Why, go to London, of course.
Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) accompanies the President (Aaron Eckhart) as they travel to London for the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Of course things go sideways and all of the world leaders are targeted in a massive attack by a group of terrorists, who are ambiguous in Middle Eastern nationality, as far as I could tell. After this crazy initial attack, the rest of the movie follows Banning trying to get the President to safety.
We also have Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, and Alon Abountboul as the terrorist mastermind. The movie is directed by Babak Najafi and this is his first big Hollywood outing.
This movie is fun and that’s all most of you probably want from it. It’s got some great action sequences and it’s pretty much nonstop. The key is to not think about it, though, as it falls apart pretty quickly under scrutiny.
Gerard Butler is likeable as always and kicks ass in a lot of different ways. His character’s patriotism level is amped up even further here, with just a few moments where it’s overbearing (like yelling some line about freedom immediately before stabbing a man in the face). He carries the movie and makes it a generally enjoyable ride.
Unfortunately this movie misses the mark in quite a few ways.
While Butler does a fine job, everyone else is vastly underutilized. I was excited to learn that Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach from The Watchmen) was in this film but I think he only gets one or two lines, which could have easily been given to someone else.
The movie also doesn’t make a sense, if you really look at it. They make a huge point that an attack of this scope would take years to plan and how difficult it would be to make happen. But then we see literally hundreds of people undercover as police, as agents, as secret service… It wasn’t like one person managed to sneak in and drop off a bomb. All of a sudden the entire Queen’s guard is a group of terrorists. What? And once the attack happens, there isn’t a single bystander in the entire movie. Sure, people would be warned to stay indoors. But would they? Really? It looks like a post-apocalyptic movie not a disaster movie. It took me out of the movie.
I’m also a little fatigued by the choice of nationally ambiguous Middle Eastern terrorists. Especially in today’s climate, with Islamophobia running rampant, this felt like a dangerous choice and, while fiction, would potentially subconsciously incite more fear and hate. Yes, it could potentially be based on real terrorist threats. It just felt unoriginal and potentially problematic.
For some reason, they movie had a smaller budget than its predecessor, which is strange considering the amount of chaos and catastrophe that was supposed to play out. This means that these effects don’t always land. Moments of suspense and danger are now worthy of a little chuckling and head shaking.
Here’s the thing. You can go in, turn your brain off, and have a great time. The action is fun, though the visual effects don’t work most of the time. The cast is underused and the plot is pretty cliche but many of you can still find enjoyment. Is this as good as Olympus Has Fallen? Not by a long shot.