Kevin: Christmas came early recently with the announcement that the world will be gifted with another installment of the adventures of indestructible stab-happy Secret Service agent Mike Banning from “Olympus Has Fallen” and “London Has Fallen”: http://deadline.com/2016/10/gerard-butler-millennium-films-avi-lerner-angel-has-fallen-olympus-has-fallen-1201843139/.
The original came out at the end of what was a very welcome run for fans of old-school action, as late 2012 and early 2013 saw a string of violent, stripped-down, and star-driven films from Tom Cruise (“Jack Reacher”), Jason Statham (“Parker”), Arnold Schwarzenegger (“The Last Stand”), Sylvester Stallone (“Bullet to the Head”), and Bruce Willis (“A Good Day to Die Hard”). While “Reacher” is by far the best of the bunch, and one of the only ones to actually make any money at the box office, “Olympus” is the most purely enjoyable and the closest to the kind of action movie you would have seen in the 1980s, with all the bloody death, post-kill one liners, and xenophobia that entails.
Knowing that he did not have the same kind of budget that Roland Emmerich could draw upon for his competing Oval Office action flick “White House Down” later that summer, director Antoine Fuqua instead compensated through some of the most insane carnage in any major studio movie in some time, especially with an opening siege in which hundreds of D.C. residents are slaughtered from the skies and the White House lawn is turned into a battlefield. Meanwhile, Gerard Butler gave the perfect kind of movie star hero performance a flick like this requires, with just the right mix of unironic sincerity and cocky smart-assedness. Also at one point he tells the villain that he will put a knife in his brain and then fulfills that promise at the end, which is always worth a few points in my book (See the recent “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” for an example of this as well).
Fortunately the American public made the right choice for a change, as Butler and Aaron Eckhart bested the bloodless PG-13 antics of Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx at the box office to the point of justifying this spring’s sequel, “London Has Fallen.” While the lack of Antoine Fuqua was a major concern, I was actually excited by the awful Rotten Tomatoes score ahead of its release, since so many reviews called it a film made for Donald Trump fans due to awesome lines of dialogue such as, “Now go back to Fuckheadistan or wherever it is you came from.” I don’t care what your politics are, at the end of the day I think we can all agree that political correctness and awesome action movies do not mix.
It was always going to be impossible to top the opening attack in “Olympus,” but to its credit, “London” at least goes for the same WTF-type spirit in killing off every major world leader (and man did those terrorists really luck out in knowing, for instance, that the Chancellor of Germany would be taking his mistress to the top of a cathedral at just the right time). Meanwhile they ramp up Butler’s awesomeness at both killing and delivering hilariously un-PC lines to his enemies both before and after their deaths. If I had any real issue with the movie it’s that near the end he fights the main bad guy around a bunch of jagged rebar but doesn’t impale the guy on it, which would be fine if they came up with an even better way of killing him off. It would be like if Stallone picked up Leon in the cave full of stalactites in “Cliffhanger” and then … just lightly put him back down.
While they did not strike the same lightning twice with “London,” it’s still a brisk 90 minutes that doubles down on Butler’s entertainingly macho charisma, and as an action film it’s a metric ton better than either of the higher-grossing “Taken” sequels. What say you CJ? As a fellow “Fallen” fan what are you hoping to see in the next installment? What nationality will the bad guys be this time? What have been your favorite moments in either movie? And how could “White House Down” have a car chase on the White House lawn with terrorists firing rockets at the president’s limo and still be so boring and forgettable?
CJ: First off, people really slept on “The Last Stand.” Second: “Air Force One: Part Two”? Deal me in! Here’s the thing that separates these movies (and Gerard Butler) from a lot of the action movies we are getting these days: I fully believe Gerard Butler could stomp my, or anyone else’s, ass. While some of these guys do get in good shape and do some cool stunts, I feel like if I called any of them an asshole they would need to go to a safe space and post on Facebook (I’m not thinking of anyone specific, but if I was his name would rhyme with Mark Suffalo).
Gerry would just drop me, but be cool enough to buy me a beer after. And that’s where things would blossom, hanging out whenever he was in town, grabbing a little late night pizza or tacos. He’d always give good advice on problems I was having with the missus, and you know he’s down for some late-night mailbox whack-a-mole. He’s really the best guy I’ve ever met. Point is, “Angel Has Fallen” will be fun because I buy him as an ass-kicker.
“Olympus” was great because it gave you what you wanted, including my favorite moment of Melissa Leo reciting the Pledge of Allegiance while being beaten and dragged off. While I agree it didn’t match the first, “London” still had the same attitude, complete with some great Banning quips. What I love about Mike Banning’s zingers is they make sense and that he says things that you might say when your brain is actually focused on the action at hand, or are short of breath. For example, during a major attack when Banning tells the President to hide in a room and shoot if anyone but him returns, the President asks what happens if he doesn’t return. Banning just responds, “You’re fucked.”
Kevin: On that note, at another point Banning tortures a bad guy by slowly twisting a knife in his back so his terrorist brother can hear his dying agonized scream. When the President asks if that was really necessary, Banning simply responds with “No” and walks off. Classic Banning!
CJ: Now what am I looking forward to in “Angel Has Fallen”? I’d say the pilots and flight attendants are all Estonian operatives. Their economy is on the verge of collapse and they need the gold in Fort Knox to jump start things. This all leads to a final battle that allows Banning to grab a gold bar with “product of The United States of America” stamped on it and literally beat someone to death with the symbol for American wealth. Your move, Putin.
Kevin: Even though I know the plot of the third one has already been revealed, I’d still like to believe “Angel Has Fallen” will be about Banning protecting the gates of Heaven from a band of Unitarian terrorists. And apropos of nothing, but I just remembered that “Olympus Has Fallen” ends with Banning and the President limping out of the charred remains of the White House and laughing after another Banning quip while literally walking over the corpses of all the other dead Secret Service agents, which strikes me as a tad callous and inappropriate, but that’s why I love these movies!