I attended the VIP screening of Lionsgate's latest action thriller, London Has Fallen, last week at London's Ham Yard Hotel. It's taken me a while to do a write-up because I have mixed feelings about the film. On the surface, it's a great action film with incredible special effects, spectacular stunts and a great cast, but there were also moments which made me feel a little uncomfortable.
There are a few troubling issues throughout. At the beginning of the film, a G8 sanctioned drone wipes out the innocent friends and family of dangerous Pakistani Arms dealers. We're given a millisecond to feel bad for them, until they seek their revenge on the leaders of the free world. All of whom, rather interestingly, attend the British PM's funeral in London, and here we're served another slab of casual racism. The sleazy Italian leader on the rooftop of Westminster Abbey flirting with his lady friend (why, we're not sure?), and the French president who's sinking champagne on his boat, are just two of the awkward stereotypes. Our heroes, the Americans, are apparently only nation who behave with any real professionalism.
Needless to say, terrorism is a sensitive topic. A film like this is in danger of feeding paranoia, "Islamaphobia", glamorising terrorism and, let's face it, has a good chance of making you hate America. Butler's line, "Get back to F***headistan or wherever it is you're from," is the kind of material Donald Trump uses to get himself in the mood. Does it make it more palatable that our director is Iranian-born Swede, Babak Najafi? I'm not so sure.
In the film's defence, all ninety-nine minutes are very entertaining. The SFX are pretty brilliant, as are the stunts, and the car chase will have you on the edge of your seat. Gerard Butler plays the lead role as Secret Service agent, Matt Banning. He shoots, stabs, punches and does it exceptionally well. He deserves praise for his impressive performance. One of his action sequences took three days to shoot. After filming Butler said he could "barely walk" and acquired broken bones, melon-sized bruises, cuts and burns to the throat. His tip for recovery was to "just grin and bear it" - lad points all round.
Thankfully, there are some less xenophobic moments in the film and even moments that'll get a laugh. In addition, there's a strong supporting cast - Charlotte Riley and Angela Bassett shine in their roles.
If you love an explosive action, a lot of swearing, and can overlook the film's un-pc moments, you will really enjoy this film.
This date thoroughly enjoyed it. Until next time x