London Has Fallen (2016) Movie Review: … But Have My Standards?

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for each anti-generic terrorist platitude.

Take a Drink: if you are as thirsty as Butler is at THAT moment of the film.

Do a Shot: with each stabbing (this could lead to blindness).

Community Review


Movie Review

By: Bill Arceneaux (Three Beers) –

Here we are, once again. In the previous two installments of Movieboozer’s coverage of Die Hard in the White House – Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down –  I ranked Roland Emmerich’s “vision” of buddy action more positively over Gerard Butler’s bluntly dumb “no time for cleverness” 1990s direct to video throwback. I do stand by these initial thoughts, but dammit, my cold heart has warmed a bit, and perhaps I rated Olympus TOO low.


I was planning on writing a self rebuttal to my original review, but when the sequel London Has Fallen came out, I threw my hat in the ring and thankfully was chosen to rebut in this venue. This scenario doesn’t come often, so enjoy it while you can!


Here I go, again on my own…

A Toast

So, what is it about this franchise that has charmed me, why is it “better” than White House Down and how about my rating?

To answer that, I recommend you google Steven Seagal. Well, Steven Seagal circa the 1990s. Eh – or now, too. The Aikido martial artist turned action “icon” perfectly landed several cheesy performances and stories, all the while with a philosophical attitude towards relaxation that bordered on coming off as “lazy”. But make no mistake – his movies were just about all entertaining as hell, and truly products of the time.

With London Has Fallen, I feel that star Gerard Butler may have FINALLY hit the heroic tone he was looking for, so much so that I have gone back to the first movie and re-evaluated. His character, Mike Banning, goes around with a knife at the ready, waiting to stab anyone and everyone with it, in whatever appendage or torso or head he can find. This is his “thing”. This is his “catchphrase”, so to speak. That and the F Word. Lots of that. Butler’s Banning is bro America never to the point of self parody, and always sincere – which, in doing so, becomes an odd reflection in the 2010s. A welcome one, but still. He gives terrorists the business – mostly of getting shot in the head and tortured unnecessarily – all the while trying to spout off witticisms that a former High School football player would try to come up with, fail at writing, but somehow make work in delivery.


Wait – where’s his knife?

The Mike Banning lore is, hopefully, just beginning, as is the conquering of true schlock over technical proficiency. Roland Emmerich’s White House Down may have been fun with more traditional – and properly witty – charisma on display, but the prowess used to make that movie, ironically, couldn’t stand quite as much under the weight of such B-Z grade content. If it were a worse movie, it would be better. Because London Has Fallen is worse than White House Down AND Olympus, it soars to enjoyable heights. Heights worth more than gold. Does this mean the original rating of Olympus will be changing? Probably not, as that’s how I felt at the time and, to a degree, still do and understand. But, thanks to London, I can look back and not get mad.

Beer Two

What was it that hurt movies like the RoboCop remake and Good Kill? Topical topics. Specifically, drone strike issues. This is such a touchy and heavy subject, that requires more concern from Sci-fi (RoboCop) and less in your face finger pointing (Good Kill).

Now, London Has Fallen’s inciting incident is a terrible drone strike, committed by the U.S., on a wedding. To be fair, a known arms dealer is there, but so was his whole family. In response, years later, he gets his family and contacts together to kill as many world leaders as possible. It’s a good premise to hang your hat on – sins of the past coming back to haunt and so forth.

However, the movie stumbles in its attitude towards this. This is where my liberal side conflicts with my bad movie loving side. Correctly, London Has Fallen NEVER has America apologize or even identify with the bad guys. In movies like this, America is a righteous killer, always justified in actions and never to be messed with in return. Where it harms London is how it tries to make the audience feel for the bad guys. You know, like they were humans or something.

Come on, movie. You can’t have your cake AND eat it, too.

Beer Three

Towards the end, there is a long, drawn out confrontation with the mole inside the government who allowed the destruction to happen. It goes on for a significant amount of time, giving me the bores. If Mike Banning had been there, he would’ve just stabbed the man in the face, said something like “You know what you terrorists don’t get?”, explained this to him, then, after killing his foe, make a statement as to how “thirsty” he is. Hint: it’s “as f##k”.



London (Bridge) Has Fallen (Down) made me look forward to TV viewings of Olympus, and gain a renewed appreciation for the 90s. Lately, I’ve been listening to 90s alternative rock on my phone’s Milk Music app. Nostalgia is nice. Like watching indiscriminate, brutal, and justifiable murder from a foreigner playing an American.


About Bill Arceneaux

Independent film critic from New Orleans and member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA).

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