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'London Has Fallen'... and Can't Get Up!

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 7/03/2016 Michael Berkowitz
LONDON © AndreyKrav via Getty Images LONDON

President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and Chief Security Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) are attending the funeral of the British Prime Minister when all hell breaks loose. London is attacked by scores of terrorists who have somehow infiltrated British law enforcement and secret service. Every major British landmark - Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, St. Pauls, Buckingham Palace - are blown to smithereens. What's a tourist to do? File for refund or buy more film?
If all this seems familiar, it should. Barely two years ago, also on Mike Banning's watch in Olympus Has Fallen, President Asher was almost killed and Vice President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) was then Speaker of the House, and similarly relegated to the command center with little plausible dialogue. Perhaps London bridges wouldn't have fallen if Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett) and Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillen (Melissa Leo) had been replaced since the last episode in this Presidential punishment franchise. With such a bad safety record, it's a wonder that President Asher was even re-elected!
Of course, two years ago the villains were the unspeakably evil, treacherous North Koreans - always one would think, an appropriate and reasonable target. But having pulverized them in the Presidential Protection Playoffs, we now get an even more heinous enemy - the inevitable threat from war-torn Western Asia. The xenophobia rating from Pakistan and Yemen must be high indeed, as in the film's entire 99-minute run it is hard to find a single positive depiction of a person who might be from this area. As at a Donald Trump rally, it helps to have the enemy color-coded.
And just why are these bad guys so upset? Two years earlier, a regrettable explosive targeting error killed many innocents at the wedding of the daughter of evil mastermind arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul). Who was to know such evil people attended weddings or even had children? Didn't they understand the concept of collateral damage? Don't they know how dangerous weddings in Pakistan can be?
In the two years post reception, Barkawi and his sons compromised British intelligence, trained scores of followers to infiltrate police and set up headquarters in a huge, heavily trafficked downtown London building, which the British spy agencies somehow overlooked. Hard to believe that such an over-achiever was only No. 6 on Interpol's Most Wanted List. One can only imagine how evil the villains in forthcoming sequels will be!
Barkawi's battalions colorfully dispatch every world leader attending the London funeral. But not surprisingly, Mike Banning almost single-handedly rescues President Asher. Banning drives, shoots, hurls grenades and insults countless over-matched terrorists. And who besides those who saw Olympus Has Fallen would have seen that coming! In the film's climactic scene, Banning battles to save President Asher from a beheading that the terrorists threaten to exhibit on YouTube, a staging tasteless enough to rival even the most popular cat or Kardashian clip.
Director Babak Najafi (Easy Money II) keeps the action flowing and pyrotechnics exploding. Writers Creighton Rothenberger and wife/partner Katrin Benedikt, both of whom also worked on Olympus Has Fallen and The Expendables franchise, set the tone of the movie with Banning baiting Barkawis with lines like, "I don't care what 'Stan' you come from," or, "No matter what you do, we'll be here in a thousand years." Although for many a guilty pleasure, the hope is that this mildly xenophobic franchise will have run its course by then.

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