London Has Fallen

tn_londonhasfallenLONDON HAS FALLEN is the sequel to 2013’s OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, that one where Gerard Butler (GODS OF EGYPT) plays Secret Service agent Mike Banning, protecting President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart, I FRANKENSTEIN) when the White House is attacked. It is not to be confused with WHITE HOUSE DOWN, the one where it’s Channing Tatum protecting Jamie Foxx.

Who am I fooling though? I get them confused so much I sincerely mixed up the titles when I wrote the first draft of this review in my notebook, and when I fixed it I started to type OLYMPUS DOWN. I was thinking I’d found the Tatum one to be the more passable 2013 half-assed excuse for a DIE HARD rip-off, but then I went to the tape. My review of that one is a little harsher, and ends by saying “If you see only one UNDER SIEGE IN THE WHITE HOUSE movie this year, see… ah, who gives a shit? Nobody will remember either of these movies a year from now. Of the two I think I preferred OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. I forget why though. Something about Melissa Leo?”

In my day a movie had to excite somebody’s imagination to get a sequel. Now it just hast to be the one of two similar bad movies that gets more money because it came out first.

Still, one of my buddies managed to get me excited about LONDON by claiming it was way more fun than OLYMPUS. I should’ve known, knowing him, that he just thought its appalling politics were funny. Sadly this theatrical release from Millennium Films is alot like one of their generic DTV thrillers, except instead of wasting, say, Tom Berenger, Michael Biehn, Michael Pare and Robert Forster in thankless authority figure roles they waste Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Angela Bassett and Jackie Earle Haley. And also Robert Forster.

So, how does London end up having fallen? The prime minister dies, and a bunch of the world leaders come for the funeral. But they have, like, the worst background checks ever, because all the sudden most of the cops and royal guards turn out to be traitors who just start machine gunning the leaders and everybody else, and detonating bombs in Westminster Abbey, London Bridge and other landmarks.

mp_londonhasfallenI guess the most exciting part of the movie is when Banning and Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs (Bassett, STRANGE DAYS, GREEN LANTERN) are trying to get the President out of there. I had a pretty strong hunch those three weren’t gonna be running around together for the whole movie, so you can guess what that means. There’s a fairly decent car chase/shootout (the line “get to the chopper” is used) and an effective helicopter related scene and then suddenly a couple minutes where Banning lets the President stand outside completely unprotected so he can have privacy during a dramatic emotional scene.

The Melissa Leo part I liked from the first one was when she was a hostage and getting beat up and she started defiantly screaming the Pledge of Allegiance. I assumed it was an ad lib. They must’ve known that was the good part, though, because they have the President yell the oath of office when he thinks he’s about to be killed. The most acting Leo gets to do is when she hears about the terrorist attack and she looks like she’s about to cry. This is the secretary of defense!

Re-reading my review of the first one, I see that I brushed off the jingoism. Not as easy this time. A North Korean war plane attacking the White House was a laughable scenario, but a coordinated gun and bomb attack on London hits a little closer to home. I’m not of the opinion that action or disaster movies are wrong after 9-11 and other terrorist attacks in the west, but I don’t like how this particular one shamelessly mines real life tragedy and asks you to have a thoughtless action movie emotional response to it. It plays to your fears of terrorist attacks and then to your fantasies that we can make it all better if we just have some guys that are awesome at shooting and then use super weapons to blow up their families from the sky. You got alot of fuckin nerve treating me like a Donald Trump voter, movie.

In the opening scene we meet the generic exotic villain Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul, RAMBO III, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, BOYKA: UNDISPUTED IV), an arms dealer said to have masterminded a bombing, at his daughter’s wedding. An American drone strike knowingly blows up the wedding, but Barkawi gets away. So the bad guy’s vicious act is in response to America’s vicious act that was in response to the bad guy’s vicious act. This is not good vs. evil. This is a messy, immoral war that kills more innocent people than guilty ones and inspires endless rounds of “profound and absolute” vengeance.

That’s what the opening tells us. But for the rest of the movie they pretend like no, actually, if you stab a guy in the eyeball and then say some macho bullshit then that’s enough. When Schwarzenegger or somebody does it then that’s that, but a movie like this ends with the Vice President making a moving speech that means we as a nation agree that stabbing the guy in the eyeball was what we all stand for. He basically says we are America, and we commit to always being a part of this endless cycle of horrible violence and murdering. But it’s Morgan Freeman so he makes it sound comforting.

There’s also a visual illustration. They track Barkawi down somewhere and the Vice President talks shit to him on Skype, says something about “you better look out your window!” and then the drone zaps him. It makes a point of showing that a bunch more random civilians are killed, continuing the tragedy and creating more people to come after us, but the cinematic language tells us HIGH FIVE EVERYBODY MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS. We aren’t gonna give those bastards the satisfaction of seeing us learn a god damn thing.

TAKEN 2 actually deals with this exact same theme of perpetual retaliation, but I got the feeling it was against it. That’s one reason why it’s a much better part 2 of a not-great modern action franchise.

LONDON HAS FALLEN, at least, is mercifully short. I’m sorry this review isn’t, but before I go I need to discuss one last thing. In the action climax (SPOILERS.) President Asher is tied to a chair, about to be decapitated on a live video feed, which someone has thoughtfully streamed on the screens in Times Square so we can see a crowd watch in horror. But suddenly Banning runs in and quickly shoots all the bad guys in the head or stabs them or whatever and frees the President. He gives the main guy a big speech about how what they don’t understand is it’s not just one of us, you can kill some of us but there will be more of us, and we represent a belief, and 1,000 years from now we’re still gonna be here.

Here are the problems I have with this scene:

  1. Pornographically reminding us of real life decapitation videos is a good way to not at all create a fun DIE HARD type vibe.
  2. The bad guy could and should make that exact same speech word for word, and hopefully the writers know this, but the movie sure doesn’t act like it wants you to notice. I think it wants you to get a red white and blue boner from it.
  3. How the hell do you establish that people are watching live in Times Square and then not cut to a reaction shot when the President’s execution is prevented by an awesome guy running in and doing a bunch of awesome America shit?
  4. And on a more basic level, to stage an action scene in a room with protruding rebar and not have a dude get impaled on it is a straight up dereliction of duty. Forget all the political stuff, that’s the more crucial thing here. The action is not nearly good enough to forgive the politics.

Responsible parties: OLYMPUS director Antoine Fuqua didn’t want to do this one, so they got this guy who directed CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN, but he quit a couple weeks before shooting and they replaced him with Babak Najafi, an Iranian-born Swedish director who did SNABBA CASH II (aka EASY MONEY II: HARD TO KILL) and a couple episodes of Banshee. The cast filmed without Butler for the first four weeks because he was doing some Dean Devlin movie. The script is by Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt (OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, EXPENDABLES 3) and Christian Gudegast (A MAN APART) and Chad St. John (that Thomas Jane Punisher short DIRTY LAUNDRY). The fight choreographer is Trayan Milenov-Troy, one of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s regular stunt doubles.

acr_londonhasfallenP.S. I totally forgot this, but OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN was the movie that inspired me to create the Action Comprehensibility Rating (ACR) system, a 1-5 rating of action clarity. At the time it was so common for action scenes to be indecipherable that I thought those of us who care about that sort of thing could use guidance to know which action movies were gonna be frustrating.

It’s nice to realize that it’s only been three years and I don’t feel like the ratings are as necessary as they were then. Maybe I’m just getting used to it, maybe I’m getting lazy about figuring out the ratings, but it honestly seems to me like the standards have improved. And it’s a good sign that the sequel gets a higher rating than the first one.

Thanks Obama.

So now that some of the action scenes are passable we can start working harder on the other parts, fellas.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 7th, 2016 at 12:24 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

128 Responses to “London Has Fallen”

  1. OLYMPUS was shockingly mediocre for something with that premise from that director and with that cast. I turned it off halfway. I might peep this on demand off the strength of this review though cause your word is usually bond.

  2. Is SNABBA CASH 2 actually dubbed HARD TO KILL in the U.S , or are you just pulling one on us?

  3. Speaking of EASY MONEY it’s being remade by WB but with Zac Efron in mind.

    Like WTF

    Why not just reuse Kinnaman and adjust accordingly?

  4. Saw the trailer for this before THE REVENANT (along with that Matthew McConaughey Civil War film I’d like to see your take on after it’s out). I didn’t think it at the time but this looked especially grotesque, having not been so long after the Paris attacks. Meaning I thought it looked bad anyway, but in hindsight so soon after those horrible events it felt even worse so. Something about seeing a major foreign city attacked all for the purpose of being the cinematic equivalent of a GOP rally rings so fucking bad in my eyes.

    I hope this doesn’t give away too much but some of your review touches a little on my thoughts towards this season of HOUSE OF CARDS, though from a very different vantage point.

  5. The Original Paul

    March 7th, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Goddamn it, now I want to see this one and see if it’s been misunderstood as much as I think OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN was. To this day I regard that film as a great, quite possibly unintentional, satire on the American macho ideal. Either they genuinely didn’t realise that the President was one of the most (apparently) stupidest characters in any action movie ever (yeah, that’s quite a claim, but honestly, can you name a dumber one?) or they quite intentionally took a handsome actor, gave him noble orchestral music, and made his character act like a total fucking idiot from start to finish. It’s like they saw AIR FORCE ONE, realised just how ridiculous Harrison Ford’s character was, and decided to take the unholy piss out of it.

    I mean, the filmmakers specifically take time to make it clear that every single problem or conflict in OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is the fault of President Asher (arguably including his wife’s death at the beginning – it’s his fault that they left late from Camp David, after all, hence his bodyguards driving way too fast over an icy bridge) and the fact that he specifically re-hires the guy who ends up betraying him (and letting terrorists into the White House bunker), but fires the guy who saves his life. I keep referring to this as “possibly unintentional” but I honestly think this had to be an intentional choice. They portray the president in much the same way as Martin Sheen would in THE WEST WING or something, give him a Pearl Harbor-style soundtrack suggesting nobility, bravery, etc; then make the guy a completely incompetent fool whose every decision just makes things worse.

  6. This is going to sound so weird but I think I liked Olympus has Fallen because it was surprisingly violent and bloody and I was so used to seeing PG-13 gun fights. For being a person that’s pretty much a pacifist who has never gotten in a fight in their life and is a big proponent of gun control, I love my violent action movies.

  7. Also, reviewing Hard Target would have been way better than reviewing this turd.

  8. Paul, you do realize there was once something called Cannon Films, right? So yes, there have been stupider characters in action movies.

  9. The Original Paul

    March 7th, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Zeke – I don’t doubt it, but which of them could pass for Jeb Bartlett from THE WEST WING? The genius of Eckhart’s performance is that he plays it like he’s the greatest man on the planet, and everything – the presentation, the scoring – seems to agree with this. But then the film keeps specifically showing us that everything he’s doing is wrong-headed. I think the point with the Cannon Films lot is that a lot of the stupid characters were unintentionally so. President Asher’s constant screwups are the focus of the film, and it makes sure we know about it. That’s why I call it “satire” and not “stupidity”. I think the filmmakers knew exactly what they were doing. (But if I’m wrong, then they lucked into one of the most unintentionally hilarious anti-macho figures I can think of, so there’s that.)

  10. Goddamn it, Paul, now I’ve got to check out OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. I thought I could have safely gone my whole life without doing that. But I’m all about an alternate reading, so now I’m curious. You owe me 2 hours.

  11. Gerard Butler in this is like if Jason Voorhees left Camp Crystal Lake to go off and become the President’s bodyguard. He is impossible to kill and wouldn’t look that different if he was tying someone in a sleeping bag and beating them to death against a tree. I wouldn’t be surprised if they whip out the hockey mask for the next one.

    Some dialogue did make me laugh. The part where Butler gets an update from the Secret service woman:

    “Collateral damage?”

    “Yes. Quite a lot unfortunately.”

    And then the next scene where he says something like, “Fuck, I am thirsty.” And then we watch him sit down and glug a big glass of water.

  12. Paul, I like the intepretation of yours. The film set it off brilliantly by having the american flag wavering in the opening letters “Millenium Films Presents” . That is pretty fucking absurd in my opinion. I like OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN..

  13. Nah, sometimes a bad movie is just a bad movie. I didn’t buy the “it was meant to be satire” excuse when Stephen Sommers said it about VAN HELSING, I didn’t buy it when Tommy Wiseau said it about THE ROOM and I definitely don’t buy it when people, who had nothing to do with the making of that movie say it. (No offense.)

  14. George Sanderson

    March 8th, 2016 at 3:28 am

    I watched both Olympus and White House Down when they came on TV and remember very little about either. I think W.H.D (as no one is calling it) was more enjoyable as I felt it embraced the stupidity of it all, whilst Olympus was trying to have its cake and eat it by being a really stupid movie that wasn’t being played as a really stupid movie.
    The only memorable part of Olympus was the line “let’s play a game of Fuck Off, you go first”. Unfortunately they have tried to one-up that in London with the line “Why don’t you pack up your shit and go back to FuckHeadistan”, which just comes across as horribly racist. Butler has not had a great week as far as race relations are concerned.

  15. My interpretation of Eckhart’s character in Olympus is that he was basically playing what would typically have been a woman’s part. He was the damsel in distress. It was like Butler was trying to save his ex wife or daughter and as such Elkhart’s character couldn’t be allowed to be all that smart or competent.

    Of the two I preferred WHD. Felt like it realised exactly how stupid it was. I didn’t get that impression from Olympus.

  16. Crushinator Jones

    March 8th, 2016 at 9:03 am

    I’m going to give this movie props for showing drone bombings for what they are: complete fuckin’ civilian meatgrinders that are manufacturing new enemies with each explosion. That doesn’t mean that this is a good movie, but I always say: praise what’s praiseworthy.

  17. The Original Paul

    March 8th, 2016 at 10:21 am

    CJ – no offence taken; and honestly I’m not even sure it was meant to be satire, it could be that it just happened to turn out that way.

    Even so, the more I think about it, the more obvious it is that it’s taking the piss. Even down to little things like the reason they are speeding at the beginning is because they leave late from Camp David, and the film specifically shows us that this is President Asher’s fault. Then the film specifically explains that President Asher hired the guy who ended up letting the terrorists into the bunker (so basically everything that happens as a result of that is basically down to him), while firing the one guy who saved his life instead of putting it in danger. I’d have to rewatch it but I believe that later on he refuses to give up information to the bad guy, causing him to kill one of his staff, then ends up giving him the information anyway. The movie is full of moments like this.

    Zeke – I will say this – I think OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is satire in the same way that SUCKER PUNCH is satire – by which I mean that even if it’s a lot smarter than it appears on the face of it, it’s still got some major, major problems as a film. I’m not sure if self-aware jingoistic trash is any more watchable than oblivious jingoistic trash, and also the antagonists are about as run-of-the-mill as they come (for the vast majority of the film, the leader of the bad guys does nothing but sit in a bunker staring at computer screens and issuing orders through a radio). I thought it was entertaining enough despite these problems, but I can definitely understand other people not agreeing with me there.

  18. I thought the

  19. Sorry for double post. I thought the villains in Olympus were more interesting than the good guys and the movie was so shitty I was rooting for them. Rick Yune seemed like a more convincing badass type than Gerard Butler. Actually, Olympus would’ve been more interesting if it cast Yune, an Asian-American who grew up around Washington DC, as the all-American hero instead of the evil foreigner.

    The single-take shootouts in London Has Fallen must not be that special if Vern didn’t even mention them in his review

  20. Joe – I actually remembered after the movie that someone said there was a one take action scene. I think I can guess which scene it was, but I didn’t notice it being one take at the time.

  21. Andrew Niccol’s latest one GOOD KILL is a pretty good movie about drone slaugh..er warfare, Crushinator. Don’t know about it’s politics, and it has a payoff moment near the end that’s a bit whiffy in a Drone-As-DIRTY-HARRY sort of way, but I imagine it’s one that you and Vern would get a lot out of, if you haven’t seen it already.

    Paul, MACGRUBER is satire. OLYMPUS is just double-ham-fisted.

  22. LHF is gross, offensive, stupid… And thoroughly entertaining. Vastly superior to the original, in my estimation and the most solidly Hard-R action film in recent memory.

    I actually appreciate the bald-faced jingoism because it gives you something to discuss over pie after the movie.

    I wouldn’t recommend-recommend this film… But if you go see R-Rated action films specifically because they are R-Rated action films, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

  23. Tawdry, if you like it, I’m in. I dug the first one for being both nasty and silly, a rare combo in this day and age. More of the same but more so sounds awesome.

  24. It’s very, very mean. The protagonist has this weird Rambonian fixation on knife fighting. In one scene, he stabs an already-incapacitated opponent like, 12 times in a row.

    Then the President asks, “Was that really necessary?”

    Butler responds, “No.”

    On the one hand, it’s pretty funny. But on the other hand, I’m pretty sure a coordinated attack on 90% of the world’s leaders constitutes an act of war, in which case Butler’s actions constitute torture and the President is party to a low-level war crime.

    I don’t know how anyone else feels, but when I read stories about Blackwater contractors urinating on corpses and the like, I don’t exactly equate it with Presidential behavior. The makers of London Has Fallen would seem to disagree.

    All of that said, I laughed out loud at the line and thoroughly enjoyed the nihilistic brutality. So, I guess I’m #PartoftheProblem

  25. It’s not actually good. But I disliked the original, saw this one for somewhat-ironic reasons… And somehow find myself hankering for round 3.

    There are a million and one plot holes and dozens of racist caricatures and a way-too-long first act and a half-assed home life subplot… But there are also a dozen memorable action beats and 2 or 3 really memorable set pieces.

    the formula of final destination style terrorist attack followed by 70 minutes of escalating cat and mouse games, wrapped in a Canon Films aesthetic feels surprisingly versatile by the end of this film, and I could see myself enjoying 5 or 6 of these things.

  26. I have a question, has anybody seen Triple 9? For some reason I’m really excited to see it but I feel like it’s going to be disappointing? Does it at least have a good shootout in it?

  27. Triple 9 has a great first-half and a total implosion in act III. Clearly a troubled production, as shown by the climax, where a main antagonist dies in an shoddy off screen explosion, followed by an awkward de nomount and a fade to black. Several thrilling sequences, but a whole that is less than the sum of its parts. I feel like it could have been saved with reshoots, or maybe just *dofferent* reshoots than it got. But the A-List cast made it impossible to get all the right players back, so they tried to write around the holes and came up short.

  28. I kind of figured there was probably something off for this film with all these dudes directed by that guy would get an after thought release date. Do they even make great cops vs robbers or police procedural action movies anymore?

  29. I agree with Tawdry that Triple 9 falls apart at the end, but I still think it’s worth checking out. There are some really great moments, and it has a hell of a cast. I’m always rooting for John Hillcoat, and I think I actually like it better than Lawless.

  30. Mouth loved it. He said it was pretty much nonstop awesome action set-pieces.

    He did noticeably stop live-texting about it toward the end, though.

  31. Wait… Triple 9 or London Bridge is Falling Down? Because that is not an accurate description of either film.

    Much like Triple 9, LHF was hampered by scheduling issues. Specifically, they lost a director 6 weeks before filming and also didn’t have Butler for the first 4 weeks of production.

    Also, they apparently lost the script draft that had anything memorable to do for the murderer’s row of actors In the White House.

  32. Pretty cool to really cool action movies with an almost fascist agenda represents a huge problem for people who happen to have some common sense. What do we do? Do we see them and try to block out what they preach or do we stay away? The worst thing I’ve seen in a long while is the last episode of WALKING DEAD. Here we get to see the “heroes” perform genocide on a group they’ve not even met. Are we the audience supposed to think this is okay? I think the producers are testing us and wants us to think for ourselves; This is NOT okay. But I see that a survei has found out that about 50% of the viewers in a country I won’t mention the name of are comfortable with this. And that’s even more shocking.

  33. Why isn´t it okay to let the audience think for themselves?

  34. I didn’t say the action in Herman Cain’s favorite movie (2011 politics joke) was “nonstop.” That was Majestyk’s takeaway from my description of my reaction, but I meant to be more nuanced. I think I used the phrase “one after another” with regard to the set pieces & intense moments. In 999 there’s a robbery/shootout, a SWAT team raid/shootout, a stalking-assassination sequence, and another heist/shootout, and they’re all superbly constructed and shot with an eye toward a very good ACR rating. And there’s a couple brief moments of fisticuffs sprinkled in there between major set pieces, as well as other police-reacting-to-emergency moments that don’t result in major bloodshed but are exciting nonetheless. Even a lot of the narrative-advancing parts that aren’t necessarily supposed to be suspenseful are sickeningly violent — there’s decapitated heads, Kate Winslet presiding over hostages with a bag of severed body parts, an x-ray image of a skull with a bullet lodged in it. I loved every minute of it although yeah the conclusion is a bit of a whimper. (But the brilliant choice for the end credits song makes up for it!)

    Anyway, I need to check out this new chapter of the HAS FALLENilogy. Watching North Koreans turn White House security’s flesh into swiss cheese gave me great joy, so I imagine watching the same thing happen to foreigners will be even better to a sick fuck like myself.

  35. Shoot, don’t misunderstand me. It’s perfectly okay for a show or movie to let the audience think for themselves. But when half your fanbase think what’s going on is cool, you have not written it properly and you fall automatically in the 24, Rambo, Red Dawn and movies-made-in South-Africa-in-the-70’s category.

    That said, 44% thought it was an immoral attack, so that’s something…

  36. The Original Paul

    March 9th, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Shoot – you want movie audiences to be stimulated into actual THOUGHT? What are you, some kind of milk-livered elitist intellectual nerd? Action movie audiences don’t want to think, they want big guns and ‘splosions! Everybody knows this!

    …But in all seriousness, some of the arguments I’ve seen around OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN especially come dangerously close to the STARSHIP TROOPERS argument of “The protagonists are part of a Fascist state, therefore this movie supports Fascism.” Or the WOLF OF WALL STREET argument of “The protagonist is an awful capitalist, therefore this movie glamorises and supports amoral capitalist lifestyles” (which apparently is a thing that people have thought, although I’ve not come across any of them myself, either in real life or on the Internet – maybe I just frequent the wrong bars / websites). Regarding OLYMPUS, I think at the very least that there’s a credible argument to be made that there’s more to it than just a jingoistic mindless orgy of American flags and evil commie bad guys. Which is not to say it’s a great movie (or even a particularly good one); but come on, give it enough credit to recognise that there might be at least some element of piss-taking involved here.

  37. When the movie opens with the credits wrapped in the american flag, you can be forgiven to think the movie might actually be self aware of the jingoistic tropes usually associated with 80´s action cinema. That´s why some people have claimed OLYMPUS to be a Cannon era Chuck Norris vehicle.

  38. Also, Paul, I completely agree with you on the STARSHIP TROOPERS/WOLF OF WALL STREET comment.

  39. I guess London Has Fallen could be vaguely satirical… but how often do you get subversive filmmaking out of 3 credited writing teams working with a director hired within weeks of the shoot date?

    Who is the clever auteur here? Who is the agent provocateur?

  40. I like Mouth’s dial-in of 3×9, and enjoyed the movie for it’s almost unrelenting grimness, which Hillcoat is no stranger to. There’s been a not-entirely-unreasonable complaint about it being under-lit, and there were times where I thought there was a black and red sock over the camera lens, but…small complaint when you’ve got a beefed up, gum-chewing Affleck chasing Pitbull-possessed bangers through the housing projects of Georgia, and Gal Gadot giving us a sample of just how Wonderful she is..and will be.


    I suspect the problem with the ending comes down to the Simon West/THE MECHANIC Haha I Got You ‘splosion at the end, and while it was a neat trick with the kiddie toy, I’d like to think Hillcoat had a more nihilistic ending in mind.

  41. Well, whether it is intentional or not, the important thing is to question the worldview the movie presents; you can either despise it or laugh at it. There is a detachment in both those approaches that makes you think it is not something to take seriously. The only thing serious is if people are unwilling to question the images and the content of them in a correct manner. That is pretty scary.

  42. The Original Paul

    March 10th, 2016 at 2:00 am

    Shoot – I think we can agree on that.

    Man, I want to see LONDON HAS FALLEN now. When it comes out on DVD, I’m there.

  43. Haven’t seen London Has Fallen yet, but since there’s a lot of talk of Triple 9 already, I’ll add my two cents — very enjoyable. Don’t disagree about the ending, tho. And with that cast and that director, I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting more. As someone who really loves cops vs robbers stuff, even the ones other people think suck, I got a lot out of it.

  44. I don’t understand why people feel that what Rick did was out of character when they have been setting this up since season 3. The very first line of this season is Rick saying they need to kill first before somebody comes for them first.

    Also, Rick is right almost all the time but obviously it’s going to backfire this time because he is going against Evil Rick.

  45. You’re absolutely right, Sternshein, Evil Rick has been there all the time. And the groups trust in him are a bit strange, when they all now that he was mad as a hatter only a couple of seasons ago. The thing I’m curious about is the producers take on this. The attack in the last episode obviously reflects world politics; We have to vipe them out before they (probably) do something to us. But when there’s no sane person like Hershel to talk some sense to the group, and Rick, all we’re left with is an attitude that supports genocide.

  46. Noted insane right-wing person Debbie Schlussel loved it, didn’t exactly pick up on any satire:

  47. Never heard of her. Now I feel dirty for clicking on that link.

  48. KaeptnKrautsalat

    March 11th, 2016 at 8:54 am

    I don’t know, maybe Debbie Schlussel’s entire persona is satire. It’s almost impossible to tell the difference.

  49. I know what you mean. We are talking about a person, who rates movies in a scale of “Muslim beheadings”, but this is also the era of Fox News and Potential Presidential Candidate Donald Drumpf.

  50. Crushinator Jones

    March 11th, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Let me ask a question: if the credits over the American flag had been removed would this still read as a satire? Or would it seem much more like an action movie with reprehensible politics?

  51. The Original Paul

    March 11th, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Crushinator – I think I was the one who came up with the “Satire” idea. It was specifically for OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN – not the new film, because I haven’t seen it yet – and specifically regarding the portrayal of President Asher. It could be that the new one is just a standard dumb action movie with questionable politics after all. I can’t say.

  52. The Original Paul

    March 14th, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Well it’s been a shitty day, so I thought I’d end it with something I haven’t done for well over a year now. I went and saw two films, back-to-back, in the cinema. The second one was SPOTLIGHT, and trust me when I say that that was the weirdest screening I’ve ever sat through (or not sat through, as the case was here) of a film in a cinema. The first one was LONDON HAS FALLEN, and I have to say that you guys drive me to movie cliches. Because you just don’t get it, do you? You don’t. You don’t get it.

    I’ve seen the movie now, so let me answer Crushinator’s question in more detail: Yes. Yes, it would still read as satire. Because holy shit, you guys have missed a lot going on in this movie (beyond the fact that it’s much shorter, leaner, and therefore better than its predecessor.)

    I mean, if you had any doubts as to whether this movie was genuinely a mindless jingoistic piece of military fetish-porn or a satire of said fetish-porn, I would’ve thought the opening minute and a half would’ve set you straight. To the best of my recollection, here’s what happens:

    – Shifty-looking brown-skinned people talk general terrorist-y stuff, including getting revenge on a treacherous general who’d sold them out. (Daddy Terrorist specifically says “don’t forget his family”. Thereby completing the list of “stock Arab terrorist villain cliches.”)
    – Said brown-skinned people then walk out into large private compound, in which – surprise! – there’s a gathering of happy-looking women and children, dancing. At a wedding party. For Daddy Terrorist’s beloved daughter, no less. I’m sure this is going to end well.
    – Cut to American military-base with expressionless white male soldiers in uniform watching a view from a drone camera of the terrorist encampment / wedding party.
    – Cut back to random bar staff member in the wedding party clocking Daddy Terrorist, pulling out a phone, going “Target confirmed”, and making a swift exit out the back of the compound.
    – At which point the Americans push a button, and the entire compound blows up. Impressively, I might add. Some nice pyrotechnics going off there; they didn’t skimp on the special effects.
    – Cut to mournfully-billowing American flag.

    Let me point out two things about this scene:

    1) The terrorists have plot-immunity (required up until the point in the movie at which they find themselves face-to-face with the protagonist). The innocent civillians, however, do not. I mention this because every single terrorist survives the blast (well, mostly: one is missing his legs, the other is missing an arm, but what’s a few limbs between friends?) So basically the movie depicts a drone strike that only inflicts massive collateral damage, but fails utterly at the job it’s intended for; and then immediately follows it with a giant American flag. Because yay, America!

    2) Later in the movie, the “noble” President Asher blatantly lies to Banning, the protagonist (and is never called out on it, because this is how Asher is consistently portrayed). He claims that they “didn’t know” that the villain’s family was there when the drone strike was made. This despite the fact that:
    – A similar drone is used to track down Asher and Banning later on in the movie, and proves itself well able to identify two men in near-darkness on a London street.
    – The Americans had an agent posing as a staff member at the wedding party that the drone obliterated. See, if you have an undercover agent posing as bar staff at a wedding party, and later on claim to not know anything about a wedding, I would respectfully question your credibility.

    Let me point out a couple of other things here.

    – After the first British Prime Minister’s death, his replacement is namechecked twice in the movie. The first time, we overhear him referred to as “Jeremy”. The second time, right at the end, is in a news report, when he’s referred to as “Prime Minister Clarkson”. Yes, the Prime Minister of Great Britain is Jeremy Clarkson. I can understand you Americans maybe not getting why this is as hilarious as it is; let me suggest that you google “Jeremy Clarkson” to find out. It’s worth it. (Also – and I don’t know if this was the intention when the film was first scripted – but please compare and contrast Clarkson to Donald Trump. Both in terms of their politics, and their actions in general.)

    – The Italian Prime Minister (if that’s his title – I can’t recall), meanwhile, is killed while making a booty-call during an “unscheduled tour” of Westminster Abbey. With a woman who’s specifically referred (in age terms) as “approaching thirty”. Again, a bit of googling might reveal why this had me giggling like a baby.

    (I’m genuinely disappointed that they didn’t do more with the French PM; it’s not as though there wasn’t enough real-life stuff to justify this.)

    Oh, and can I please address this:

    The bad guy could and should make that exact same speech word for word, and hopefully the writers know this, but the movie sure doesn’t act like it wants you to notice. I think it wants you to get a red white and blue boner from it.

    And this:

    They track Barkawi down somewhere and the Vice President talks shit to him on Skype, says something about “you better look out your window!” and then the drone zaps him. It makes a point of showing that a bunch more random civilians are killed, continuing the tragedy and creating more people to come after us, but the cinematic language tells us HIGH FIVE EVERYBODY MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS. We aren’t gonna give those bastards the satisfaction of seeing us learn a god damn thing.

    Vern… apart from the fact that the “bunch more random civilians” that are shown in that second drone attack shot are all wearing robes and headscarves and carrying automatic weaponry – I couldn’t see a single unarmed man, or even a clear shot of a person’s face, in that shot, and I was looking closely – do you not see the contradiction here? This is a film that specifically shows us, in its opening scene, that a drone attack is completely ineffective and only kills innocent people. Then, at the end of the film, it shows a second drone attack, only this time not a single innocent person is visible. Let me ask you this: do you think this was an accident? Do you think that this massive contradiction between these two scenes can be explained away by the film being a dumb bit of jingoistic mush? ‘Cause I don’t. I think it wants you to notice exactly what’s going on. I think the filmmakers was deliberately making the two drone attacks so vastly different, in terms of their effects, that it would throw everything Banning and the Vice President were saying minutes before into sharp relief. It’s deliberately undermining them.

    And as for “the movie sure doesn’t act like it wants you to notice”, what exactly aren’t we supposed to be noticing here? That Banning’s speech comes from the mouth of a completely subservient unquestioning brute, who both looks and speaks like what you might get if you threw Johnny Rico from STARSHIP TROOPERS into a teleporter with a silverback gorilla and they had some kind of horrible gene-splicing accident, THE FLY-style? A brute who is both friends with, and protects, President Asher who is repeatedly shown in both films to be incompetent and corrupt (and whose actions are never questioned by Banning or anybody else aside from the film’s villains?) A brute for whom “to serve” is clearly a point of pride, yet who is clearly utterly uncritical about who he’s actually serving?

    Or aren’t I supposed to notice that whenever either Banning or Asher is under pressure, they turn to jingoistic cliches in order to express themselves? And that these, again, are met with universal approval and acceptance by the other characters even as the film itself derides them for it?

    I mean, if the movie “doesn’t want me to notice” this stuff, then it fails. Because I noticed it.

    But hey, this is just a dumb action movie, right? Because a movie that has a character come up with a strategy to differentiate the British security services from the terrorists of “Pull our guys out; whoever’s left in is a bad guy”, and say it right in front of a clearly-visible and previously vocally-highlighted list of suspected British nationals from Middle-Eastern countries, can’t possibly have anything intelligent or smart to say.

    Vern, and everybody else who accuses this movie of being a dumb piece of hollow jingoism: you do not understand this movie. You do not understand either of these movies. I said about OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN that I wasn’t sure whether or not it was meant to be “satirical”. I’m now sure; it was. No bloody wonder the director of the first one didn’t want to come back for the second, considering how badly misunderstood it was.

  53. The Original Paul

    March 14th, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    It belatedly occurs to me that I might just have insulted Vern on his own site. Sorry ’bout that. It bothers me when a film does stuff that’s as smart and subversive as some of the stuff that LONDON HAS FALLEN does, and people don’t recognise it. This is the kind of shit I expect elsewhere on the Internet, but not here.

    If it makes you feel any better, I agree that ENTITY’s Charlotte Riley (AKA Mrs Tom Hardy) and PITCH BLACK’s Radha Mitchell are kind of wasted. Two excellent actors who I’d like to see in better roles than the ones they’re getting. Angela Bassett as well (and was it just me or did she look about ten years younger in this film than she had previously? She looked great here.)

    Mouth, if you’re still about, I’d like to see your input on this one. If anybody recognises what’s going on in this film, I’d expect it to be you.

  54. Well, if the movies are intended as satire then please be warned that they are being taken and enjoyed completely at face value by many Americans. I have not yet encountered one person besides you who thinks they are not meant seriously. Also, I would have to say that it’s not successful in being very funny or cool in the way that the Verhoeven movies you’re comparing it to are. And they would be an anomaly in the careers of the filmmakers (the script is by the pair who wrote THE EXPENDABLES 3). Furthermore, Butler is not letting on – he was quoted at the premiere saying “It’s about us winning. It’s about what happens when the shit hits the fan, and who stands up to face the challenge. It’s based on heroism and the good guys kicking ass.”

  55. Satire is too strong a word, but I could never take OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN seriously. I thought the hilarious opening credits made it look more self aware because it was so absurdly blatantly jingoistic. Also a lot of other stuff in it made me facepalm it silliness.But if people are taking this film seriously, I think it speaks volumes of their own warped world view and that this somehow fits into that. jesus Christ. That scares me

  56. The Original Paul

    March 15th, 2016 at 5:20 am

    Vern, I haven’t used the Verhoven comparison for anything more than saying that OLYMPUS and LONDON are being taken as jingoistic trash in the same way that STARSHIP TROOPERS was originally taken as pro-fascist, because clearly I agree that these films are not the same animal. And yes, I would definitely agree that the big Verhoven three (ROBOCOP, STARSHIP TROOPERS and TOTAL RECALL) are better films than LONDON HAS FALLEN. All three of them were in that list I made of “my favorite / most-watched films of all time”; ya think I’m going to disagree with you on that one?

    But do me a favour and rewatch that scene in the British command centre where the police are discussing how to respond. They establish that the terrorists look like police and security services, discuss how to respond, point out that if the Army goes in then there could be casualties because nobody knows who’s a terrorist and who’s a genuine officer. Then one of them comes out with the strategy of “pulling our guys out: anybody left there has to be a terrorist.” And throughout this whole thing, the list of British nationals from Middle-Eastern countries is subtly but clearly visible on-screen. Are you telling me that this was an accident? That it was meant to be nothing more than a feelgood piece of jingoistic nonsense, as Butler’s quote would suggest? Because clearly, if so, somebody didn’t get the memo.

    Also the new British Prime Minister is Jeremy Clarkson. A rich aggressive bully who hates liberals and was fired from his job at TV’s TOP GEAR for physically threatening one of his producers. I don’t know how prominent Donald Trump was when this film was being made; but if it was before his meteoric rise to Presidential candidacy, the filmmakers sure lucked out, didn’t they? (Another nod to the film’s subtlety: if my recollection is correct, we only hear his first name at the very start of the film, and his last name at the very end of it. I don’t think we see what the new British PM looks like at all. Guess the filmmakers didn’t want to offend Mr Clarkson by namedropping him too obviously. They might’ve been afraid that he’d either sue them, or punch them. Both valid fears.)

    And a lot of the stuff in this film is subtle, so much so that it’s gone unnoticed. Plainly the double-meaning of the “pull out” speech has, and I agree that that was done in such a way that it’s easy to miss.

    On the other hand… they follow up a drone strike – which kills an entire wedding party’s worth of innocent civillians, while completely missing the terrorists that it was intended to kill – with triumphant music, a billowing American flag, and a scene of the President of the United States out for his morning jog? I mean, what the fuck more do you want here? This is “subtlety” in the same way that that drone strike on the wedding party was a “mild inconvenience”. (And again, Asher blatantly lies about this drone strike later on in the movie, and none of the characters correct him or challenge him about it. Even though the movie specifically makes it clear that he’s talking bullshit.)

    I don’t know… if all Americans are taking this shit at face value, then Shoot’s right. Maybe you guys deserve to have Donald Trump as your next President. I look forward to him pointing the finger at Vladimir Putin during arms negotiations and telling him: “You’re fired!”

  57. The Original Paul

    March 15th, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Oh, and can I say that OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, while it had a lot of piss-taking as well, was not generally a very good action movie – too much time was spent on the forgettable bad guys, the close-range action scenes were chaotic, and the film generally overstayed its welcome? LONDON HAS FALLEN has none of these problems. There’s a run-and-gun action sequence near the end that took my breath away by how clear it was. Many of the edits were quite long, there was a good sense of staging and the geography of the scene throughout, and I never found any confusion in terms of which side was which or who everybody was. Even the close-range combat (there’s a lot of knife-fighting in this movie), while not perfect and edited a bit too choppily for my tastes, is about ten times clearer than the equivalent scenes in OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. Yeah, LONDON works far better as an action movie than its predecessor did.

  58. KaeptnKrautsalat

    March 15th, 2016 at 9:29 am

    I agree with Paul on the satirical elements of LONDON HAS FALLEN.

    There is a scene in which Butler slowly cuts an incapacitated terrorist’s throat while forcing another to listen to the execution on the radio, immediately after that guy threatened to behead the president on youtube. After that the president asks if that was necessary, to which responds negatively. The audience laughed at this, not as a cheer, but in disbelief that this is supposed to be our hero. (They also laughed at Morgan Freeman’s final speech.)

    Unfortunately this is the only level on which the film works, the action scenes are mostly boring shootouts in dark alleys and the villains are completely forgettable.

  59. I’m afraid some of the participants here are reaching down in the basket called “poor excuses” and come up with the same stuff we heard in the 80’s, when all the Red Scare movies came out. That something is silly and stupid doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s meant to be satire. Donald Trump isn’t a comedian, he’s just an idiot.

  60. The Original Paul

    March 15th, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Pegsman – I think you just came up with the exact reverse of the “it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare” argument right there. And it makes just as little sense. I mean, if the quick-cut from an utterly failed drone strike that’s massacred hundreds of civilians, to triumphant music over a billowing American flag, doesn’t convince you that this thing is a subversion of jingoistic action movie tropes, what will? I just don’t see how this film could’ve made its intent any clearer than that opening scene. And it’s not as if it doesn’t follow through with that intention later on. I’m not claiming that this thing is a satire on the level of WOLF OF WALL STREET or STARSHIP TROOPERS. But it sure as hell supports a reading that’s very, very far from “typical jingoistic action movie fare”.

    And for the record I think that Trump’s neither a comedian nor an idiot. He’s a particularly well-funded megalomaniac.

  61. I think Trump is most certainly not an idiot. He knows how to exploit a demographic. It is naive to think otherwise. I also think it is dangerous to fall into the idea of the end of the world if he is elected. Trump is too smart for that. It could turn out he might be better than Bush.

    I cannot believe I just said that…

  62. RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART 2 – Serious Movie


    FACE/OFF – Serious Movie


    Vern – Serious Critic

    Paul – Quite Possibly Satire. Or taking the piss out of us. I love your energy and enthusiasm dude, but I bet you could talk underwater all day with a mouthful of marbles…

  63. So , RAMBO 2 is worth taking seriouslly??

  64. The Original Paul

    March 15th, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Maybe “piss-take” rather than “satire”. The movie, not me. What I mean is that this is a faux-jingoistic action movie that’s taking the piss out of jingoistic action movies. I think that’s clear enough.

    RAMBO 2 is worth nothing except happy, happy oblivion.

  65. The Original Paul

    March 15th, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Poeface, I’ll give you this much: I may have been less than serious about Trump telling Putin “You’re fired”.

    Although if it does end up happening, it may very well be the greatest political event in the history of the world.

    I still want to see what Mouth makes of LONDON HAS FALLEN. He’d “get it”. I think.

  66. RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PT II is nothing short of amazing.

  67. Maybe you just don’t like jingoism, Paul? I don’t know, I don’t mean any disrespect to you personally, cause I think you’re amazingly articulate and (almost) convincing for a guy with consistently crazy ideas (are you a lawyer in real life? If not, you need to get on that), but I’m just not buying the satire argument.

    One of the many, many reasons RAMBO: DO WE GET TO WIN THIS TIME is so great is because a defeated and depressed America saw a defeated and depressed John Rambo gets to strap on a fucking bullet vest again. He wasn’t interested in tickling America’s ass with a feather (one for you Shoot), he was like a Viagra straight to the core.

    I can understand the need to satirize that, like it was later on, but at the time it wasn’t. Maybe OLYMPUS wants to tap into that Rambo spirit.

    In conclusion – America, Fuck Yeah! (no sarcasm or satire intended)

  68. Paul, I think “it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare” is just what this is all about. I’ve laughed hard and long at action movies that are moronin and selfserious. In these cases the producer/director actually think “it’s Shakespear”.

    Those on the other hand who tries to be satirical and witty at the same time as exciting usually fail so bad that the people behind them have to tell the audience afterwards that “it wasn’t supposed to be Shakespeare” – they’re not even unintentionally funny.

    There’s no shame in turning your brain off and watch some visually stunning and exciting, yet fascist and stupid, action movie, but have the balls and sense to call it what it is.

  69. By the way, I’m not talking about your balls and sense, Paul…

  70. The Original Paul

    March 16th, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Pegsman and Poeface – I would agree with your argument if you related it to COMMANDO or something. The trouble is, this movie is not fascist (unless your idea of fascism is “supporting pulling troops out of the Middle East / not making drone strikes on wedding parties”), and I think there’s more than enough evidence to prove that somebody had some pretty smart ideas in it. That scene where they talk about pulling out of London, but it’s actually about pulling out of the Middle East (and once again let me point out that the film specifically calls our attention to this – this isn’t an accidental thing, guys)? That’s fucking glorious.

    Sorry guys, but this isn’t a matter of opinion. You’re demonstrably wrong on this one. The only alternative to my theory here is that everything here, every one of the dozens of things pointing towards this film being a piss-take, came about by pure accident. And with all due respect, that’s complete bullshit.

  71. The Original Paul

    March 16th, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    And by the way, I don’t care how many idiot Americans, or people of any other nationality for that matter, disagree with me. The film supports my reading of it. The only other reading I’ve seen of it, which is that the film is witless jingoistic fascist trash, is not supported by the film itself. I think I’ve already demonstrated why this is the case. If you have any counter-argument to my points then by all means give it, but don’t tell me I’m wrong because “it is what it is” (which is just saying “you’re in the minority, therefore your views have no merit”).

    “It can’t be smart because action movies are dumb” is a shitty, shitty argument that I don’t expect to see repeated here.

  72. The Original Paul

    March 16th, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Ok, maybe that was a bit harsh.

    Ok, so… I don’t care if you guys disagree with an opinion I’m giving. Honestly, I don’t. If you are one of these weird, weird people, who only seem to exist on the Internet and not anywhere else, that can actually sit through CASINO ROYALE without being bored to tears or wanting to throw a boot at the TV screen, hey, more power to you. I won’t pretend to agree with you, or even understand you, but I won’t blast you over a difference of opinion.

    I’m not arguing about opinions here. I’m arguing, or trying to argue, about objective facts regarding what happens in the film.

    What’s driving me up the wall here is that nobody is offering any counter-argument to anything I’m saying. All you are effectively doing is saying “there’s more of us, so you have to be wrong.” Except that this isn’t a question of opinion, it’s a question of fact, and as far as I can see the facts all point one way. I’m not saying this is the greatest film the world has ever seen (although I do think it’s a lot better than it’s getting credit for) – I do, however, argue that a film that punctuates the brutal on-screen deaths of hundreds of civilians in a drone strike with triumphant music and a billowing American flag may not, in fact, be arguing for remote military intervention. There’s such a thing as “cinematic irony”, and it’s more than just a matter of subjective interpritation. This film is subtle about it, but it’s very clear what’s intended here. Which is not to say it’s meant to be taken “seriously” – again, the film postulates the replacement British PM would be Jeremy Clarkson! – but it sure as hell shows that this thing is not supposed to be taken at face-value.

    I think I’m done.

  73. “Except that this isn’t a question of opinion, it’s a question of fact, and as far as I can see the facts all point one way.”

    You use examples of things that happen in the film to help back up your opinion, it doesn’t magically become fact. You make a good argument that the film is satire but it’s only fact if the director or writer come out and say it was.

  74. In other news, WWE Studios has finally given us the obvious movie that they should have made years ago: DIE HARD AT A WRESTLING SHOW

  75. One more time, then I’m off to get lobotomized –

    RIO BRAVO – Actual, no bullshit, serious fuckin movie.

    BLAZING SADDLES – Satire, comedy, piss-take on the Western movie.

    DIE HARD – you’re getting it, right?

    MACGRUBER – _ _ _ _ _ _ (sounds like Flat Tyre)

    Let me use an analogy – let’s say you were Grandpa Joe, and you and Charlie were doing the Chocolate Factory tour together after winning the Golden Ticket. And your bladders full from too many cups of tea at brekky so you duck off to the bleed the old swizzle stick. On your way back to the group you pass a room that says Wonkas Chocolate Nuts and poke your head in for a gander. Inside you see Willy Wonka himself, dipping his big hairy nutsack in warm chocolate, then wrapping it in colorful paper. Now, what would you do if Wonka tried to pass his balls off as scorched almonds to those poor kids? Just to fuck with them. You’d call him on it right? “Don’t eat those Augustus, they’re not…ah shit too late..fat fuck.”

    I might be a right-brain-leaning halfwit Paul, but c’mon, don’t try and feed me Wonkas ballbag. Not cool.

  76. The Original Paul

    March 16th, 2016 at 9:22 pm


    That’s a good point that deserves an answer. I can’t speak to the intentions of the people making the movie, only on what’s conveyed by the movie itself. When I speak of “intentions”, that’s what I’m referring to.

    I want to be specific about this: I’m not judging the movie on what anybody who’s made it has said. I’m judging the movie here, not the press releases surrounding it. I don’t know who decided to make it the way it is, what changes were made for the British screening (which might be an interesting point given just how different the reactions specifically from American viewers seem to have been to my own), what went through the minds of the creative team, or what disagreements there may have been between them. I don’t know if the marketing people said “Hey, guys, we’re kinda depending on the conservative 18-35 action blockbuster audiences to make up the bottom line here, y’all might want to avoid mentioning that this movie is kind of making fun of them when you talk about it, ok?” I don’t know any of this stuff. Honestly, I don’t particular care about it either. I avoid the hype machine, trailers, marketing materials, and any spoilers that I can before the movie; and if I need to see what the creators have said about it to “understand” it afterwards, then that’s either a failure of myself or of them.


    “RIO BRAVO – Actual, no bullshit, serious fuckin movie.”

    So… you rank LONDON HAS FALLEN alongside RIO BRAVO and DIE HARD as a “serious” action movie? Ok… even if I thought it wasn’t a piss-take, I’d still regard my COMMANDO comparison as a lot more accurate than freakin’ DIE HARD… but that is a subjective point, so ok, let’s run with it. By your standards of “not a piss-take”, a movie that names Jeremy Clarkson as the next British Prime Minister is supposed to be “serious”? Come the fuck on. And should there be any doubt about this particular point, I present documentary evidence of it here: http://www.driving.co.uk/news/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-jeremy-clarkson/

    Also, when a party of civilians is threatened in DIE HARD, I’m pretty sure the protagonist tries to rescue them. And when innocent people do die, it’s not immediately followed by triumphant music, billowing American flags, or a quick-cut to the President’s morning jog. But hey, let’s not let these minor differences get in the way of your preconceptions, eh?

  77. From what I´ve seen, Paul has been using stuff from the films to support his interpretations. Whetther you agree with them or not is an entirely different thing. But nobody has come with similar counter arguments using the filmic “texts” to make a different interpretation. You just dimiss it. And I don´t think that is fair.

  78. How can you enter a debate when you disagree on what the topic is in the first place? Definition of insanity.

    I fully expect loaded movies like OLYMPUS and LONDON to be parodied in the future, much like RAMBO was. But they are the actual movies. The parodies may or may not come. That is all I wanted to say, and now I have Gene Wilders balls to look forward to in my nightmares.

  79. I don’t think there really is a counter-argument, except to say that none of the things you describe seemed like satire when I watched them or sound like satire when you describe them, and I haven’t yet met anyone else who didn’t take it at face value or at least assume they were enjoying that stuff ironically like INVASION USA or something. So if it is a satire unfortunately it’s way over my head and I would guess also most other people (including Gerard Butler) and it was too dull to want to watch again to study for clues.

    I feel like you know me well enough to know I’m not saying anything at all like “action movies are dumb so they can’t be smart.” But it seems like you’re saying “action movies can’t be dumb, so this must be smart,” and I don’t think that math works out.

    But I’m glad you got more out of it than me.

  80. Rusev as Rusev holding Dolph Ziggler as not-Dolph Ziggler at gunpoint, Kane as Chief of Police, and you guys are still talking about LONDON HAS FALLEN? I mean come on, I know that LEPRECHAUN ORIGINS and SEE NO EVIL 2 sucked, but still.
    Anyway, thanks Stu.

  81. KaeptnKrautsalat

    March 17th, 2016 at 2:51 am

    Satire is often not perceived as such on first sight. None of the examples Poeface listed (such as HOT SHOTS or BLAZING SADDLES) are satire, they are parodies. A better comparison would be STARSHIP TROOPERS, which the majority of the audience considered a serious film. LONDON HAS FALLEN is obviously nowhere near as good as that one, but there are enough scenes in it to suggest that at least one of its writers tried to insert subversive ideas into an otherwise dumb action film.

  82. The Countdown movie is directed by John Stockwell who is the director version of a journeyman pro Wrestler.

  83. Or in wrestling jargon, a Mechanic.

  84. I wouldn’t say that a mechanic in the ring is necessarily a journeymen. Steve Austin often talks about how he was a mechanic in the right prior to really getting into the Stone Cold character. I wouldn’t call Steve Austin a journeymen wrestler prior to the Stone Cold character. A journeymen character would generally be associated with being an enhancement talent.

  85. This was the best Cannon movie Cannon never made. It’s basically Invasion USA but in London. I loved it. Countless action movies feature it’s hero running away from a fireball in slow motion. In this one, the hero runs TOWARD the fireball. Amazing.

  86. The Original Paul

    March 18th, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    KK – thanks for the support. I think you hit the nail on the head with the “parody” point, because I don’t think that LONDON HAS FALLEN is a “parody” in that sense (although it kinda gets close to it with the portrayal of the Italian PM, the Clarkson thing, or – as Jack Burton points out – running towards the fireball.)

    Vern – I am genuinely wondering if we had a different version of the film over here in the UK / Europe, and they left out things in the US release. Like having Asher lie to Banning about knowing about the civilians who were killed by the drone attack at the start, or that scene where they talk about pulling their troops out of “London” (read: the Middle East) and how they can’t tell who the good guys are because the bad guys now look like them, etc. It would explain the whole SUCKER PUNCH thing that seems to be happening here. I’ve googled “regional differences” and a bunch of other terms but I can’t find anything talking about specific differences between the US and UK releases of this film. All I can say is that your review wasn’t a fair or accurate assessment of the film that I saw. It would be incredibly cynical (and apparently very effective) for them to edit this film as a big slab of jingoistic Americana for the US market, and a cynical deconstruction of jingoistic Americana for the EU one.

  87. Point taken with the satire/parody difference. More appropriate examples of satirical films would be NETWORK and VIDEODROME, the latter leaning toward subversion. OLYMPUS doesn’t willfully or from what I can tell, even intentionally try to subvert anything we haven’t seen in an America- Fuck Yeah! action film.

  88. even *un-* intentionally

  89. I don’t know, guys. Humour is a very subjective thing. And it is of course okay to laugh at and with any movie. But deep down we know when something’s intentionally funny or unintentionally.

  90. I recently watched the CABIN FEVER remake and I really can’t tell whether it’s simply unbelievably stupid or if it’s some kind of bizarre prank/satire of superfluous remakes. But it’s probably just because I really want to believe Eli Roth tried something interesting and weirdly clever instead of admitting that he just took the money and signed off on a piece of shit because he didn’t care.

  91. I found it to be like 80s action flick, NPC and fun. Then you should also hate Delta Force, because it dealt with hot topic at this time (Arabs hijacking planes) and Delta Force 2 too (Colombian cocaine disease)? Now the hot topic is Arabs blowing up western capitals – what’s wrong with that to make a movie based on this?
    Strike one – Vern. I really thought you can stay away from saying “like I’m voter of Trump” and you’re just 21st Century softpants.

  92. monkey – It’s a little different over here. Maybe you can watch it with distance over there, but in the U.S. we have to watch it knowing that there are many morons around who allow a movie like this to inform their view of the world and how to solve problems. I wouldn’t encourage it if I were you because who the fuck knows who they’ll want to start a war with next. They never heard of your country so they might think you’re Muslims.

    As for DELTA FORCE, no, I don’t like the first one very much, the second is stupid fun though. If this movie had more skydiving and fights in restaurants and Billy Drago as the bad guy maybe it would be passable. It would have to have some good action scenes or characters or be entertaining to watch for more than a few scenes for me to forgive it being cruel and stupid and insulting. I can’t just do that for free.

    thanks monkey

  93. You’d be hard pressed to find a more hateful, false, unfunny and stupid movie than the first DELTA FORCE. I will never forgive Cannon for dragging poor Lee Marvin into that mess. But, and this is a great example of what we’ve been discussing, the second one actually works.

  94. But DELTA FORCE had a catchy theme song. Blowing up foreigners to catchy music is always preferrable.

  95. I never chimed in on this one, but I liked it. The action was decent and hard-hitting, if not particularly exceptional, but I mostly liked it as a compendium of the shitty reactionary attitudes of its era, much like DELTA FORCE and DIRTY HARRY did for their own eras. I’m coming at it differently than Vern, in that I don’t need the action to compensate for that shittiness; the shittiness is part of the appeal. I’ve long thought that exploitation movies (and this is an exploitation movie to its very core) say more about their time and place than more serious-minded works, because they’re not trying to make a statement about their era’s commonly held perceptions; they’re just trying to sell them back to the people who already have them. As such, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI says a hell of a lot more about where America was at in 1986 than that year’s Best Picture winner, OUT OF AFRICA. And I think this one will be a more valuable resource for future scholars of American self-delusion than a lot of the more liberal War On Terror movies that have come and gone without making much of an impact on the culture.

    That said, I do think a case could be made for Paul’s secret satire theory, but that all goes out the window during Butler’s big speech at the end. He is clearly drinking all the Kool Aid and the movie follows his lead into an ideological mire from which it has no exit strategy. There are some things that are simply too over-the-top to be satirized, and America’s jingoistic bloodlust might just be one of them.

    Anyway, I thought it was some entertaining dumb, mean-spirited, unintentionally funny trash. All the Cannon comparisons are most definitely earned.

  96. Thanks Vern and all the others too for their answers. I was just thinking that in 2042 we look back at London has fallen and laugh out loud like we do at Invasion USA now…and then feel bad about movie where aliens are treated like scum, because in real life they’ve been quite nice after making contact with mankind in 2038…

  97. The Original Paul

    May 2nd, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Majestyk – if it makes any difference, I honestly think there must’ve been two cuts of the movie. I can’t explain the vastly different reactions between the Europeans that I’ve seen talk about it (which admittedly is a grand total of three including myself), and the majority of Americans I’ve seen talk about it, any other way. They made a “let’s take the piss out of the silly Americans” cut for us guys, and a “Hoo Ra! U-S-A! U-S-A!” cut for you guys. It wouldn’t be difficult. All you’d need to do would be to make minor changes: for example, leave out the two or so lines of dialogue confirming that that initial drone strike killed hundreds of civillians but missed every single terrorist that it was aimed at, and the “piss-take” is completely removed.

    Monkey – pretty damn sure the aliens got “integrated” a long time ago. How else do you explain Jeremy Clarkson (who, let us not forget, is to be our next Prime Minister, at least according to LONDON HAS FALLEN)?

  98. Perhaps there is a Paul´s Village Cut of the film.

  99. I’d love to see the Paul version of any movie. Especially this and the Captain America(s).

  100. I´ll sure be interested watching any movie reduxed according to Paul. Then we would truly find out if he is a genius or just the certified loveable lunatic we all know and love.

  101. The Original Paul

    May 3rd, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Shoot – “Paul’s Village” got replaced by “Majestyk’s Village” quite recently. Keep up!

    I was never “certified” either. I’m not saying nobody tried though…

    Geoffrey – I will happily admit that I’ve always been a bit harsh on the three CAPTAIN AMERICA movies (FIRST AVENGER, AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, and WINTER SOLDIER). I think a good 25% of my problems with AVENGERS ASSEMBLE could’ve been sorted out if one of the other “heroes”, just once, could’ve said to Cap: “Shut up, you fucking douchebag.” I don’t think they’re bad films (mostly… FIRST AVENGER has a helluva lot wrong with it, actually, but on a technical level it’s good. It takes a lot for a movie set during World War 2 to have me rooting for the Nazis in its first fifteen minutes or so, but this film managed it admirably.) I hate the politics of them of course, but other than that they just don’t do too much for me. Wouldn’t you rather have the experience with these films that you had, rather than the experience that I had?

    As for LONDON HAS FALLEN… I want someone to watch a Region 1 and a Region 2 DVD side-by-side and look for differences between ’em. See if my conspiracy theory holds any water at all. I can’t find any information about regional differences on the interwebs.

  102. FIRST AVENGER and IRON MAN are literally the only Marvel Studios movie I liked. So it always bewilders me how people shit on FIRST AVENGER like it was THE INCREDIBLE HULK or something. Then again I’m like the only person on the planet who loathed THE AVENGERS to the point that I haven’t watched or felt compelled to watch any Marvel Studios release since. Then again I’m pretty funny like that.

  103. When you guys throw around a bunch of movies with AVENGER in the title I get confused. For me there is only one true avenger and he is toxic.

  104. The Original Paul

    May 3rd, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Shoot – finally, something we can agree on!

  105. Lloyd Kaufman was just down here a few weeks ago presenting both the original Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke ‘Em High actually. Would have been fun if it wasn’t for all the hipsters who go to that theater and make watching older films in theaters a choir.

    I only recently pulled the stick out of my ass for the Marvel Studio movies when I enjoyed Age of Ultron more than the die hard Marvel fans last year and then them entertaining me with Ant Man. I still feel the movies could be better and still do not think they are as good as the fans tell me they are but I finally accepted them on their own terms and we are cool now. Funnily I grew a huge Marvel Comics fan so many who know just assume that I am all into these movies as well. Regardless I’m looking forward to Civil War (not super excited but intrigued) which is the first time in a long time I’m actually looking forward to a Marvel Studios movie.

    Paul: So with that said, it’s not that I’m super defensive of the Captain America(s), I’m odd man out with not really liking Winter Soldier (gave it two tries) but enjoyed the first two-thirds of First Avenger (sorry), it’s just that you have such a wonderfully unique way of viewing and deciphering movies (and characters!) that makes me at least wish I could see some of the ones I disagree with you on through your eyes (sometimes).

    Maybe movie-censorship.com will finally solve the mystery behind these two versions of London Has Fallen.

  106. Toxie is superior to damn near every superhero out there so no arguments there.

  107. geoffreyjar – “I’m looking forward to Civil War (not super excited burigued) which is the first time in a long time I’m actually looking forward to a Marvel Studios movie.”

    Same here.

    I’m actually excited because of Spidey playing with the Marvel Universe and Black Panther. Also it looks like the type of team up movie I always hoped for in this universe. The comic book version is the story that broke me and made me drop marvel comics altogethr but it’ definitely a very cinematic concept. I expect the adaptation to be much better.

  108. Brodie: They would have to actively try to make it worse.

    Dear god I cannot type anymore… That was supposed to say ‘but intrigued’ by-the-way.

  109. It’s from a producer of London Has Fallen so I put it here. This looks like so much fun. They describe it as Die Hard in a mall meets Assault on Precinct 13 which looks accurate enough. Can’t wait to see it. Also, Vern needs a dobbleganger. Too many movies not enough time.

    It’s called Security fyi.


  110. Have you guys seen the trailer from the director of London Has Fallen. I’m not sure the movie has (non-existent) satire or not but it is going for a Blaxoloitstion vibe in the font but feels more like a regular action movie. Like a perhaps a better version of Low Down Dirty Shame.



  111. Oh THIS was the movie where I first mentioned security.

    Anyway, I don’t want to open up old wounds so I won’t debate whether or not the film is satire (it’s not) but I enjoyed it. The long take gun fight was very well done. I thought the action scenes over all were well directed. What I do want to mention is that this would be a very interesting double feature with Wolf Warrior 2 because they share a lot in common. Both are clearly propaganda for their particular countries or origin. The only difference is the director not being American.

  112. “I enjoyed LONDON HAS FALLEN for how shameless and dumb and reactionary it was (would probably be less enjoyable these days)” **Quoted from CrustaceanLove on the Hard Boiled thread**

    Crustacean – I agree. I also think, in light of recent events, it would play as a sick joke.

    “Anyway, I don’t want to open up old wounds…”

    Sternshein – Fuck you.

    “…so I won’t debate whether or not the film is satire (it’s not)”

    Sternshein – Thank you.

  113. The Swedish-Iranian dirctor of this made SNABBA CASh 2- THE CASHENING. A pretty shitty film. And I was never impressed by it. I watched 15 minutes into this and shut it off. Does it get better?

  114. Shoot – depends on your mileage. It’s not a bad film per se if you enjoy bombast and jingoism in your action films. The Cannon similarities have already been mentioned. Butler is basically a White House sanctioned patriotic psychopath who is off-leash for most of the film. He knows how to punch-stab-and/or headshot pretty good. Like if John Wick was in the Secret Service.

  115. He is just doing his job to protect the President and the world so I don’t get how he is a sociopath.

  116. The definition of sociopathy is “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience”. And I think you’ll find that Mike Banning easily fits that description.

  117. You basically described every action hero that ever existed then.

  118. Also, what did be do that wax criminal in the film and anti social? Or how is he even showing any lack is moral conscience either?

  119. Vern, I’m sure someone has pointed this out already, but *SPOILER* during the final drone strike on the main bad guy, you hear a (VERY ADR’d) voice say something like “no civilians in proximity” or something like that, right before the building blows up. Both me and the wife actually laughed out loud at how ridiculous and unlikely that was, considering they’re you know, in the middle of a city and everything. I had actually already heard the ending was the US killing the mastermind in the desert, but I seriously thought that Butler was going to kick down the door and stab him. That’s about the wavelength this movie was on.

    I’m not sure if I liked this better or worse than the first one. Olympus felt like an actual theatrical movie, this one feels like a DTV sequel (albeit with greatly improved special effects over the first one). The first one shamelessly ripped off too many beats from Die Hard, this one fortunately changes it up to rip off Escape from New York, but without any atmosphere or actual people around. The entire second half seems to take place on a studio lot or a generic European war-torn city; it doesn’t really do anything with its setting. Speaking of not doing anything, I actually really liked the supporting cast in Olympus – here I don’t think they give Oscar winner Melissa Leo a single line, and I’m not sure why Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley is even in this thing. Freeman was kinda the weakest performance for me last time, and he’s even worse here, practically sleepwalking. Why he’s coming back for part 3 and Eckhart is not, is a mystery to me. Only one of them seems to actually want to be in these things. The villains are all bland and unmemorable, and unlike Olympus, Butler barely gets scratched here (I think he gets shot in the arm at one point but it doesn’t affect him and he’s not even wearing a bandage or sling at the end).

    The action is serviceable, a little too much “guy shoots at Butler and misses, cut to Butler shooting at the screen, cut to CGI headshot and the guy falling down” over and over and over. This probably has a bigger body count than John Wick 1 and 2 combined but hardly any of the rewindable action. That one-take shot is pretty good but nowhere close to anything in Bushwick. I still appreciated it though.

    *Side note – so weird that this movie throws in the time-honored tradition of having the “Good Guy who is the same minority as the Bad Guys so you can’t call us racist” (Grant Heslov in True Lies, Tony Shalhoub in The Siege, the Asian cops who suddenly were always part of the squad in Lethal Weapon 4, etc…), but then the character literally disappears. I appreciate that Butler (who has already said to shoot first and ask questions later, AND knows there’s a traitor amongst the good guys) never suspects the guy or even gives him a second look. (He’s ruthlessly violent AND progressive!) But they’re betrayed AGAIN two seconds later, and the movie doesn’t really explain how the eventually-revealed white-guy traitor would have been able to send those bad guys to the safe house. I wonder if there’s a whole deleted subplot where the Middle Eastern MI6 agent WAS a traitor, and then Butler stabbed him.

  120. I seem to have missed that ADR, and I think other people corrected me too. But didn’t they first have a bunch of shots of civilians walking around?

  121. neal: But what’s your take on whether or not this movie is a satire or not!?

  122. Just rewatched the ending on Netflix – the only guys you see walking around the building at the end are all holding machine guns, and the ADR’d voice says “Ground asset confirms target clear of civilian presence”. The POV of the missile shows it flying straight into a part of town with tons of buildings, but I guess this must be a new experimental, low-power drone strike since all it seems to do is blow out the windows of the building and leave it standing. Or they didn’t feel like spending more money on the explosion. So yeah, I think the movie deserves some credit for not being as heartless and cruel as Vern originally thought, but it’s also kinda anticlimactic that it sets up a messy issue with civilian casualties in drone strikes, and then solves the problem by just magically having the villain not be around any civilians even though he’s in a MORE populated part of town than he was when they droned him the first time.

    Geoffrey – I can’t really decide on the “satire or not?” debate – but I’m guessing that it’s not. It’s not really funny or campy enough, it just sorta seems like a throwback to 80s fare like Commando, which is awesome and funny and over-the-top but it’d be a stretch to call it a satire. Perhaps if they took Vern’s idea of showing people in Times Square cheering as Gerard Butler kills a room full of people, it would be clearly more satirical, (and clearly more awesome). The aforementioned “messy” parts re: the terrorists are interesting and curious, but I think they’re honestly just the writer’s attempts to “humanize” the villains and give them good “motivations” rather than actually comment on real-world things. I think the hipster/hacker terrorist character who had his legs blown off kinda sums up the movie’s stance – they show him having no legs as almost a surprise reveal to make you feel bad for him, and he always seems nervous and conflicted, and about one cut-scene away from being the “I didn’t think anyone would get hurt!/You guys are going too far!” character. But then at the end Butler comes in and mows him down like everyone else (he’s even unarmed!). I end up wondering -is it good that they showed a Middle Eastern villain with nuance? Or should they have just let the bad guys be one-dimensional cartoon characters like the cannon fodder in Commando? Which would offend people more? The same writing team didn’t really bother to give the North Korean villains in Olympus Has Fallen any tragic backstory or specific revenge motivation, and I think most people like that one better (for many other reasons too of course) – should they be applauded for trying to add a (thin) layer of complexity this time? Who knows.

  123. One thing that WAS possibly satirical (or maybe unintentionally funny) is the scene where Butler crushes the random cop’s trachea and then tells the president not to worry, you can tell that he’s a bad guy and not a real cop because he’s holding an AK-47. Butler then spends most of the rest of the movie running around with said AK-47. I hope the Blu Ray comes with a 10 minute long short film from the cop’s perspective, fighting valiantly, picking off terrorists one-by-one, finally procuring one of the terrorists’ weapons, and then immediately getting killed by Gerard Butler.

  124. Sure you guys have heard by now that Angel Has Fallen is a kinder, gentler Mike Banning adventure. So yeah, it’s not as outrageous or offensive as the last two – there’s no wild gore or eyebrow-raising politics (there’s also sadly no Melissa Leo, Robert Forster, Radha Mitchell, or even a mention of Aaron Eckhardt). But even though it’s more mellowed out (like the Street Fighter series!), I actually thought this one was pretty great.

    Sure the budget seems even lower than the shoddy last two, and there’s comparatively little action (I would almost classify this as a drama to be honest!), but what action there is, is well-shot and staged. The big finale is in a generic office building a la Invasion USA, but Ric Roman Waugh still makes it involving and exciting. Butler’s Mike Banning is a completely different character this time – old and ragged and hooked on painkillers; it’s Butler’s spin on Logan and he pulls it off. Danny Huston’s bad guy is the best in his endless list of mediocre bad guys, and Nick Nolte cements his status as a National Treasure. Yes, there’s some Last Crusade father-and-son action shenanigans, but I like that he plays it 80% melancholy and sad, and only 20% wacky – the movie makes the huge assumption that the audience actually cares about these characters and their internal drama, and not just more stabbings, and I’m happy to say they’re right. This is a surprisingly likable, feel-good action movie, and I’m glad it’s doing well at the box office because we could use more of those.

  125. The INVASION-U.S.A-like reactionary politics were the only thing that made this series interesting to me. I heard there’s a line about “Russian collusion” that’s played for laughs?

  126. Yeah they actually insert Morgan Freeman, Forrest Gump-style, into archive footage with Putin, so Putin is clearly the Russian president in this timeline, but then they also mention “Russian Collusion” and talk about “the time the Russians meddled in our election”. So I guess Trump happened in this timeline too? I guess we can assume he was beaten by Eckhart, who was succeeded by Freeman? Or wait, wasn’t Eckhart’s President a Republican in the first one?

    Real answer: who the fuck knows because if you told the writers of Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen that Donald Trump would be the actual President when the time the third one came out, they would say “that’s WAY too fucking preposterous man”.

  127. yes but is Angel Has Fallen satire or not? lol

  128. I was gonna wait til Vern reviewed it to comment but Waugh had the brilliant idea to shoot night scenes like real night, so without lights. What a brilliant idea! Action scenes you can’t even see! Plus it’s shakycam too.

    The drone attack was fine I guess and at least he hospital finale was daytime. The generic frame up that’s so obviously not Banning it makes Jada Pinkett Smith’s character ridiculous for believing it.

    The Russian collusion bit totally lacks the conviction of the first two moviea’ jingoism.

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