London Has Fallen explodes on Blu-ray, with a great technical delivery of sound and fury ultimately signifying nothing, sadly.
The Production: 2/5
London Has Fallen walks heavily in the footsteps of its predecessor, Olympus Has Fallen, essentially repeating many of the same story beats, albeit in a different location. The basic story has US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) finding himself in mortal danger from the evil terrorists – except that he has nearly superhuman Secret Service man Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) to protect him. After a quick setup to establish how awful the bad guys are, the movie devolves into a series of action set pieces that pit the unstoppable Banning against an army of seemingly helpless terrorists who conveniently forget how to aim when Banning is around.
SPOILERS: The original 2013 movie had Banning protecting an invaded White House from the evil Korean terrorists, including all kinds of mayhem within and without the building. It featured plenty of action and did well at the box office. It wasn’t a blockbuster, but it certainly made money from its original budget. The new 2016 movie expands the scale of the original movie, but actually has been made for a smaller budget than the original. Where the original film took place in Washington DC (albeit shot in Shreveport, Louisiana), the new film takes place almost entirely in London. And some of it has clearly been shot in London, given that the company spent a little time there to establish themselves. But most of it has been shot in Bulgaria, on a large backlot set with a lot of green screen to allow the company to pretend scenes are happening at scenic locales like Buckingham Palace and the Parliament. This time around, the evil terrorists are Pakistani and they’re out for revenge for a targeted strike that happens right at the top of the movie. Following this, somehow all the world’s leaders are suckered into travelling to London to attend the funeral for the latest Prime Minister (with nobody thinking to check the situation out before rushing over…) and hijinks ensue.
MORE SPOILERS: The initial wave of attacks is actually quite impressive, on a purely technical level. The copious CGI is fairly convincing, and the DTS X sound can literally rock a home theater as the explosions start to go off. Of course, one can’t take the time to think how the evil terrorists could possibly know where all their targets would be at any given time, in order to set up so many fiendish bombs in so many different places. Seriously, let’s consider it – we have to believe the terrorists knew that the French head of state would be sitting in a boat on the Thames, the Japanese head of state would be stuck in traffic on a specific bridge that they could blow up, that the Italian head of state would be standing on the roof of Parliament at the moment they blow it up, etc. That’s a LITTLE much to swallow, don’t you think? It does make for a spectacular sequence, as we see Big Ben blow up and plummet to the street below, but one would think this would require some planning ahead of time. Some of this is so convenient that one really starts to find the Final Destination movies to be a tad more realistic. (Yes, you read that correctly…) But thank goodness for Mike Banning. He manages to shoot, stab, pummel, explode and otherwise beat the stuffing out of nearly every Pakistani terrorist we can see – and from the looks of it, there are apparently hundreds of them in London! (I’ll try to ignore the fact that they’re dressed as police protecting the heads of state and none of the real police seem to notice what they’re up to until it’s way too late. Or that none of the real police seem to notice that they have a lot of new Pakistani recruits for the day that they don’t recognize…)
MORE SPOILERS: Again, on a purely technical level, London Has Fallen is truly stunning to watch. The action sequences and the explosions are well-produced. If anything, this film is a solid example of a mid-level Hollywood action film in the current age – it’s the equivalent of the 1990s Steven Seagal action opuses such as the Under Siege slapstick events. (And you could transpose Seagal for Butler and pretty much have the same movie) And I have to acknowledge these movies are popular. They don’t make billions of dollars, but London Has Fallen actually made even more money than the original. Which tells me that these guys are bound to try it again. The real question now is where can Mike Banning go with the President after conquering Europe? Here’s an idea: Earth Has Fallen. Mike Banning accompanies the President to the International Space Station when the alien terrorists from Independence Day attack! How’s that for a scenario to top everything? They could even have a sequence where Banning spacewalks without a space suit to save the President from being tossed out an airlock. The possibilities are endless. Just don’t tell Gerard Butler – or you’ll see that movie pop up on screens in 2019. Just sayin’…
London Has Fallen will be released on Blu-ray on June 14th. The packaging includes Blu-ray and SD DVD editions of the movie with both discs containing the same special features and the Blu-ray containing the reference quality picture and sound. Instructions for downloading a digital copy of the movie are included on an insert in the packaging.
3D Rating: NA
London Has Fallen is presented in a 2.40:1 1080p AVC transfer (avg 34 mbps) that looks extremely good, particularly given how much of this movie was shot on green screen. There are a variety of flesh tones, textures and locations, both real and CGI that come across convincingly in this transfer.
London Has Fallen is presented in an English DTS:X Master Audio mix (avg 4.3 mbps, going up to 6.9 mbps for the big action sequences). This is a reference quality sound mix – bullets and explosions whiz around the surround channels and place the viewer in the middle of the chaos. This is also another one of those mixes you don’t want to play late at night with the subwoofer on if you live in an apartment building. For the night owl observers, there is also a DTS: X Headphone mix (@ 384 kbps) that can allow you to watch after midnight, in case that’s your chosen option. There is also a DTS 5.1 mix in Spanish and an English DVS 2.0 track.
Special Features: 2/5
The Blu-ray of London Has Fallen comes with just two special features, a basic featurette on the making of the film and a more specialized one about the action sequences. The DVD edition includes the same bonus material in standard definition. Both editions contain previews for other releases – the difference being that the Blu-ray uses online previews while the DVD has them on the actual disc.
The Making of London Has Fallen (13:16, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This is a standard making-of featurette, including interviews with Gerard Butler (who is a named producer on the movie) and various other cast and creative personnel. Director Babak Najafi discusses how he essentially turned the bigger action sequences over to the more experienced production hands and focused on the performances happening within them. The featurette shows clearly how a large backlot in Bulgaria was used to double many areas of London with the help of green screen, thus allowing the production to seem to be showing total mayhem at major landmarks.
Guns, Knives and Explosions (7:42, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This featurette focuses on the action component of the movie, including some major gun battles and some fairly big explosions. Butler and his co-workers are clearly aware that this is the big attraction for these movies and the featurette shows how much enthusiasm they bring to pouring it on.
DVD Edition – An SD DVD of the movie is included in the packaging, containing the movie in an anamorphic 2.40:1 transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English and Spanish (@448 kbps), as well as the English DVS track. The DVD also holds the same two featurettes as the Blu-ray.
Digital and Ultraviolet Copies – Instructions for obtaining digital and Ultraviolet copies of the movie are available on an insert in the packaging.
The film and special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.
London Has Fallen is another one of these movies that’s probably reviewer-proof. I could sit here all day noting the illogic, the nonsensical situations, the indestructability of the lead character, and it wouldn’t make a difference to the millions of people who enjoy the movie anyway. At least the Blu-ray is well-done on a technical level, providing great picture and sound. As we saw above, there’s not much in the way of bonus features, but I can’t imagine that more featurettes about this movie would be that interesting in the first place.