The first, worst, and most profitable of competing presidential-assault thrillers from 2013, Olympus Has Fallen treated a terrorist attack on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the utmost seriousness, like a scenario that had been gamed out on Fox News. In essence, it was another "Die Hard in a [blank]" shoot-'em-up, but because it was about totally plausible matters of national security, the only fun it offered was whatever one-liners Gerard Butler squeezed out. At the time, it felt like a Bush Administration relic that had slipped into Obama's second term, a chest-thumping affirmation of American might against all threats foreign and domestic.
And yet here is London Has Fallen, which moves the action to a monument-rich European capital but is otherwise the same generic, po-faced bore as the original. To a score flooded with choral wailings — this selection must be labeled "scary brown people" on the Hollywood soundboard — leaders from around the world arrive in London for a funeral, including U.S. President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), accompanied by Mike Banning (Butler), who leads his secret-service detail. It turns out to be an elaborate trap, with traitors working together to knock off heads of state.
Banning and President Kick-Ass not only seem to anticipate such catastrophes, but actively train for them in competitive morning jogs and boxing sessions. Taking over for Antoine Fuqua, Swedish director Babak Najafi dutifully lays waste to the city, lopping the towers off Westminster Abbey and ensuring that at least one London bridge is falling down. The action never stops once the first car bomb is triggered, but the second half of London Has Fallen takes place mostly in the dark, where nobody can see the budget.