EVEN WHEN JUDGED on a generous B-movie curve, 2013's Olympus Has Fallen counts as a whiff, with its base, Die Hard-ish pleasures and hilariously overqualified supporting cast (Morgan Freeman! Melissa Leo!) terminally undercut by shoddy technique. While London Has Fallen is a quantum improvement over its predecessor in most regards—for one thing, it doesn't appear to have been lit by a single, five-gallon aquarium bulb—the Spirit of Ugly Americanism has, if anything, intensified. Even viewers who are fully able to engage their reptile brains may find themselves taken aback by the pure sociopathic glee with which the hero stabbily dispatches the various villains from Fuckheadistan. Yes, that is an actual term from the movie.
Set a few years after the White House got blown up real good, the premise finds President Aaron Eckhart (Aaron Eckhart) and ace bodyguard/knife enthusiast Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) traveling to London for a state funeral, only to find open season declared on the attendees. The Canadian prime minister isn't shown clutching a bottle of syrup before he explodes, which may be the film's only moment of restraint.
Director Babak Najafi, previously responsible for some of the most ambitious episodes of the batshit awesome Banshee, brings some real craft to this nonsense, choreographing the extended-take set pieces and grody moneyshots with such genuine aplomb that it's easy to get swept up in the meatheaded flow. Whenever the action takes a breather, however, the unsavory elements rush the stage, with results both broad spectrum offensive—the punchline delivered after a character takes refuge in a closet is tasteless in a way that would take pages to describe—and jingoistic enough to make the members of Team America stumble towards the woodchipper in disbelief. (If this film is, in fact, a parody, please disregard everything above.)