Welcome to Purple City Souffle’s Sunday Club: A new feature where, once a week on a bog-standard Sunday, Ashley and Matthew select a film either at random or via tenuous anecdotal referencing, then proceed to get drunk as lords whilst each attempting to piece together a review in the aftermath.
With one of the duo in rural Kent and the other in a Government funded compound in Tunisia (no, for real that’s where Ashley actually lives) going to the cinema would be a logistical clusterfuck, so instead? The pair will be reviewing whatever shite they can dredge up from the ever expanding and unscrupulous Netflix empire.
SUNDAY CLUB WEEK 1: LONDON HAS FALLEN
Here we are. Sunday Club Week One. London Has Fallen. The second film in the racially incendiary and inexplicably popular “Something Or Other Has Fallen” franchise, that opened with Olympus Has Fallen (which documented the struggles of popular analogue camera brand Olympus in the wake of the digital revolution) and will continue sometime in the near future, with the recently announced Angel Has Fallen… May God have mercy on us all.
Naturally we open in Pakistan with a typically moody film score of a distinctly “eastern” vibe. Some lazy stock news reports waffle continuously in the background… I was paying shit-all attention to what they were saying but presumably it went something along the lines of “Spray tan skin coloured men = bad. Stars and Stripes coloured men = good.” For all I knew they could have quite easily been reading randomly selected Chingy lyrics over the opening credits: I was too busy being totally baffled by the question of who commissioned a sequel to a bland, self-important and quasi-racist bag of shit involving saving the POTUS (Olympus Has Fallen) instead of commissioning a sequel to a knowingly ridiculous and quasi-surrealist bag of nonsense involving saving the POTUS (White House Down)
At this point, I got the feeling that I was going to be distractingly baffled more often than not over the next ninety-five minutes… Didn’t take long: The next scene was the introduction, or reintroduction if you’ve seen the original film in this franchise (which apparently you all fucking have because it took just shy of 180 million at the box office) of Gerard Butler’s all-American hero cum Screwfix catalogue model Mike Banning and his Bromance sidekick The President, played by a suitably shamefaced Aaron Eckhart.
After the prerequisite “lads lads” emotional bonding which consists of going for a jog in the park together tailed by a man in a truck who looks a lot like a young George Foreman. Eckhart asks of Butler “what the hell are you made of?” to which Butler replies in his gruffest cod-American accent, “bourbon and poor choices”; a line which was sssumedly added so Butler could explain how he ended up in this film (although in saying that I think Gods Of Egypt might trumped even this; but that’s another shower of shit for another Sunday.)
The next ten minutes of the film are probably the closest LHF comes to pretending it might have a narrative; dispensing with the pleasantries and instead just allowing literally anything on-screen with a mouthpiece to shit-out exposition like there’s no tomorrow… and considering they’ve already announced the sequel to London Has Fallen, I was sort of hoping there actually was no tomorrow.
To cut a wafer thin story to the very marrow Gerard Butler is having a baby, Aaron Eckhart is still totes his BFF, the prime minister has just died so everyone in the world has got to pile over to London for a state funeral and straight-to-DVD stalwart Colin Salmon is apparently trapped in some sort of filmic purgatory where he is doomed to endlessly reprise his role from 90s James Bond films as a plot-spewing British Intelligence Filofax.
Basically I wasn’t paying any attention, but if the title is anything to go by you can bet your last coin that England’s capital is heading for a somewhat titular fall after which, one would assume, Gerard Butler will attempt to help everyone stand back-up again via the mediums of swearing, shooting stuff and swearing at stuff he’s just shot.
I was sort of hoping at this point some stuff would actually start getting shot and whatnot but instead Morgan Freeman appeared and started telling our old pal Gerard Butler about his recent fishing trip, to which even Butler doesn’t look like he could give a fly-fished fuck, let alone the audience. In Deep Impact you were the ACTUAL president Morgan: now you’ve been demoted to talking about fishing trips with the prez’s bodyguard. Step up mate… Amistad feels like so long ago.
I hoped from here we would skip to the bit where some stuff explodes or falls over. Instead we get a dreary bit on Air Force One where some Angela Bassett agrees to be Butler’s baby’s Godmother (indicating she’ll blatantly get tucked-in by some terrorist types shortly), Colin Salmon shits even more chipper British exposition in a faceless “HQ” and some foreign dignitary tells his daughter on the phone that everything will be just fine (bet you can’t guess who’s getting tucked in by the terrorists after the fairy godmother)
There’s then a sequence that is genuinely impressive… no not the obligatory “surprise” terrorist strike where everything blows up in CGI so shite, it can only be described as looking like it was made by forcing a Puzz3D of Big Ben into a Commodore 64, no, no: the real marvel is the scene prior to this turgid terrorfest, wherein we are introduced to the political leaders of multiple nations one by one. It would be unfair to call the people who put this film together screenwriters (might even be unfair to call them people), but credit where it’s due: they have somehow managed to racially profile every country featured in the film without even a hint of shame. Most half arsed screenwriters tend to just be racist to the bad guys whereas this lot are basically racist to everyone, so well played gang: It’s a brave new world of all-inclusive ignorance.
At this point in any pedestrian action film, you’d expect to have arrived at “the good bit” aka the first big shootout and, for what it’s worth, this one in this total shit. Basically, half of ALL the emergency services in the UK are in fact terrorists in disguise as the emergency services who start shooting all the emergency service people in the UK who aren’t in disguise (aka the real emergency services). It makes fuck all sense on about 999 different levels but to be honest, if you’re still taking this film seriously, you need to be left out in the cold all winter with only a copy of the Harrison Ford classic Air Force One to keep you company (that’s how this president in danger malarky should really be done).
Needless to say, this is nowhere near as good as Air Force One… Not to be completely negative though there was a shot of an ambulance man in a high-vis jacket pumping off rounds with a grenade launcher and, thoroughly drunk as I was, this really did amuse me.
At around the thirty-four-minute mark I suddenly realised how stupendously bored I was for the thirty-fourth minute running. Assumedly when Morgan Freeman sauntered in (they aren’t paying him enough to rush in) and asked “how bad is it?” his conscience had finally gotten the better of him and he’d broken the fourth wall to address the audience directly. There’s also a moment where Angela Bassett gets stabbed by a helicopter blade and, laying on her deathbed / airbed, gets Butler to promise to “make those fuckers pay”…again at this point I have no idea if she was talking about the terrorists in the film or her agent IRL for dragging her into this shit.
From thereon out things basically got louder and more offensive, with the odd slump in noise every now and then where a half-baked extra or (quite possibly a fully baked) Morgan Freeman attempted to fill us in on the sub-Balamory quality plot.
Excitement definitely peaked however when Gerard Butler advised the terrorist leader and all his mates via radio to “go back to Fuckheadistan!”, which sounds like the best place to be when the sequel to this drops: Naturally I immediately started looking for a bargain flight on Skyscanner.
There was also another really good scene where, shortly after Gerard Butler dug a knife under a bloke from Fuckheadistan’s ribs, he and Eckhart sat down to chat about having kids and drink glasses of water in a really aggressive manner, at which point Butler explains in a rare moment of nuanced subtlety that he is “thirsty as fuck.” …Which is neither here nor there really.
After that refreshing water break it’s back to shooting stuff and, as if it couldn’t get any more exciting, the SAS arrive to help save the day! It’s a great test of Butler’s acting chops too as the SAS captain has a Scottish accent which completely throws burly Scotsman Gerard Butler off his shit American accent for the remainder of the film. The Scottish SAS guy is also blatantly played by one of Butler’s mates from the pub too which you can’t not respect.
Finally we’re at the picture’s “nail biting” ending which takes place on a building site: presumably this is because the set designers got a whiff of the turgid script and, upon seeing the proverbial iceberg approaching, fucked off down the pub for an early lunch. I wish I’d fucked off down the pub for an early lunch.
The film wraps up nicely with all the bad guys getting shot loads (even the bad guy in the wheelchair gets a full clip so at least you can’t say Gerard Butler is a body fascist) and Aaron Eckhart dispensing some God Bless America jingo directly to camera, whilst getting slapped by a man who appears to dancing around him in a circle. Presumably he’s doing the national courtship dance of Fuckheadistan.
Needless to say it’s a particularly nasty little film. A substantially low, low point, (which I secretly found quite funny) sees the president spring from a cupboard he’s hiding in and blow off a Fuckheadistani’s face, to which Butler responds “I always wondered when you were going to come out of the closet”. This was a nice surprise, because I was initially worried that this film would just be racist and not manage to squeeze in any homophobia at all… On another note, I think this write-up is actually longer than the film’s script.
Throughout tension runs at a palpable zero. In Air Force One, Wolfgang Petersen managed to wrangle a scene of nail-biting suspense solely around Harrison Ford waiting on a fax to send to Glenn Close: the director of this (you can shit-off if you think I’m name dropping him) can’t even get a cheek-clenching moment out of Aaron Eckhart’s character narrowly missing decapitation. Still, at least we can all sleep soundly knowing this film grossed more than the original, on a smaller budget and that Angel Has Fallen will probably make more than both pictures combined.
I, for one, cannot wait and will be eagerly counting down the hours until I can review it for Sunday Club.
Meanwhile, I’ll be sipping on a heady cocktail of bourbon and poor choices in Fuckheadistan, with my BFF Ashley by my side. We might even go for a jog in the park.
See you next week.
As we look forward to the third instalment in the ‘…Has Fallen’ franchise, ‘Angel Has Fallen’ in 2018, Matthew and I looked back on the 2016 movie ‘London Has Fallen’ to find out what to expect from this Primark – Stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap – style of film making.
Olympus Has Fallen was the sort of movie that had the most conservative of Americans leaving the cinema chanting “U.S.A, U.S.A, U.S.A!” – or wishing they were born Canadian – So I’m going into ‘London has Fallen’ with the assumption that it’ll be more of that but with references to The Queen, bad teeth and afternoon tea – and hopefully Danny Dyer.
The opening credits begin to roll and go-to British Intelligence actor and 2012 Strictly Come Dancing contestant Colin Salmon’s name appears: a clear sign that they’ve gone big this time. The usual suspects from the first movie; Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman and Gerard Butler of course make a return ready to save America and say “fuck off” to the rest of the world.
Like any movie of this ilk the format is simple; it starts off as a normal day with some laughing and joking, then bad things happen, then America saves itself. This one starts with Mike Banning (Gerrard Butler), a member or the Presidential protection team and US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) going for a run in generic, always clean, always safe and always sunny utopian Washington park. They make light of Banning’s drinking problem and how he’s still able to blow Asher’s mind with his ability to run backwards (It’s as unimpressive as it sounds).
Being a Londoner, one of the really unusual standout things I noticed was the decision to land Air Force One at Essex’s lads on tour holiday airport Stanstead. I imagine that in reality he’d be fighting off questions like ‘Did you have a well naughty time in Maga?’ and ‘has the quality of coke really slipped as much as reports say out in Ibiza?’
When the President reaches the London, other political figures from around the world are shown acting like stereotypes on a jolly; The French President is sailing on the Thames drinking Champagne and probably eating a croissant, the Italian Prime Minister is being a pervert with a woman half his age atop Westminster Abbey. He’s like a lazy Berlusconi caricature but with half the charisma and sleaze thus making him look tame and non-predatory in comparison. The Japanese PM is silent sitting in traffic like he never left Tokyo; I’m surprised it didn’t pan to a shot of him being driven by Pikachu. But that’s enough making fun of America’s allies, the enemy is about to turn up and make London fall.
We get a quick glimpse of the lead terrorist, Aamir Barkawi (Alon Abutbul), as we’re taken to a beautiful looking Yemen; a far-cry from what the nation looks like now – Thanks America. He perfectly orchestrates a truly unimaginable and simply unbelievable terrorist attack, making London fall, badly.
Banning protects President Asher as they head to the Helicopter for safety but they get shot down. The stupidity of the movie continues as Banning tells the crew to brace for impact as they’re about to get shot down but nobody braces at all, somehow they make it out without a scratch and run away, except for one of Asher’s aides who gets impaled on a bit of the helicopter, she should have braced… or not been black and a woman in Hollywood.
Enter US Vice President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). After Olympus fell he must have been thinking he was in line for becoming President but now as then, sure enough, Asher will probably pull through.
With their backs against the ropes Asher and Banning turn super xenophobic with all morals and tolerance being thrown out the window as they pull some truly fantastic lines out the bag including but not limited to ‘Everyone here [London] is a terrorist asshole until proven otherwise’ i.e. kill everyone, especially the brown ones.
With all the US intelligence, why does Banning think the terrorists are all from ‘Fuckheadistan’? There’s a bit where Asher tries to show he’s not completely anti-anything non-USA when he says he asks his son to ‘treat everyone compassionately’ but then he and Banning go off again trying to kill anyone who may or may not be a Fuckheadistani.
There’s even a haphazardly placed gay joke, which the 13 year-old me gave a wry smile to when Asher bursts out of a small room to shoot a Fuckheadistani in the head saving Banning from being shot. Banning’s response then being ‘I was wondering when you were going to come out the closet’ – It’s still quite funny to be fair, especially as there is nothing else relating to Asher’s sexuality throughout the rest movie.
Banning continues to be the bizarre superhero that nobody asked for after the President gets captured by the Fuckheadistan terrorist organisation and somehow convinces the British military squadron leader to let him lead the troops into what can only be described as a kamikaze mission in order to rescue the most lacklustre president to ever hold office in movie history.
Another great line from Banning is when he’s shouting at a Fuckheadistani he’s just stabbed; exclaiming that Fuckheadistanis have been trying to kill Americans for a long time and that in a hundred years from now America will still be about… Not sure the same can be said of Fuckheadistan.
It’s interesting that the reason for this attack on London and capture of the US President is to avenge of the death of the bad guy’s daughter who was killed by the hands of US military. Though two wrongs don’t make a right it’s more justified than some fascist lunatic regime – #MakeAmericaGreatAgain.
Speaking of two wrongs not making a right, Vice President Trumbull launches an air-strike over Fuckheadistan. It doesn’t make the news; a glimpse of the present world we live in and one of the few things that’s vaguely accurate in this movie. What does make the news is that a Prime Minister Clarkson takes office in the UK. If Jeremy Clarkson is PM in ‘Angel Has Fallen: We’ve Run out of Ideas’ I’ll refuse to watch it… Who am I kidding; we all want to see more Fuckheadistanis get stabbed at the hands of Jezza.
For a story line which is greyhound thin and acting levels running on fumes – apart from Butler who seems to bully, punch and stab his way through every line with a Mitchell brothers gusto of lairyiness, ‘London Has Fallen’ is absolutely everything you’d expect to see following on from ‘Olympus Has Fallen’.
The CGI laughable throughout, especially considering it’s a 2016 film and bares similarities to the almost never-ending disaster movie 2012. The London Has Fallen team seem unashamed by violence either: depicting a simple stabbing (there’s soooooooo much stabbing) as OTT as a ‘70s Kung-Fu movie but opting for pixels instead of paint. ~
There is a purpose for movies like these and it’s the reason why films like ‘Fast & Furious 7’ and ‘Transporter 4’ get made. It takes me back to an interview Antonio Banderas had with Graham Norton when he was trying to explain why people should go an see ‘The Legend of Zorro’ after it had been slated by critics and it’s that people go and see these movies just to enjoy it for a moment and if it does well another is made until people no longer go to see it – That was the last in the Zorro franchise. The same theory applies to the ‘…Has Fallen’ franchise except they’re really xenophobic and should possibly be boycotted. For instance it comes as no surprise that they cast a Jewish Israeli actor as the lead terrorist in this movie as no Fuckheadistani/Yemeni person would be caught dead in the role.
So as for ‘Angel Has Fallen’, I’d like more death-defying stunts, less Aaron Eckhart, more Playstation 2 graphics and many, many more Fuckheadistanis.