London Has Fallen movie condemned as racist 'terrorsploitation' for Donald Trump era

Variety condemned the 'effortlessly racist' film which reverts to 'familiar Islamophobia'

Adam Sherwin
Media Correspondent
Thursday 03 March 2016 16:33 GMT
Westminster Abbey blows up in the controversial teaser trailer for London Has Fallen
Westminster Abbey blows up in the controversial teaser trailer for London Has Fallen

London Has Fallen - into a pit of manure.” Hollywood’s latest take on the War on Terror has been condemned by critics as a racist “terrorsploitation” fantasy designed to spread fear after the Paris attacks.

Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament are gleefully blown to smithereens in London Has Fallen, a brutal terrorism action thriller starring Gerard Butler, which Variety described as “ugly, reactionary fear-mongering.”

Scottish actor Gerard Butler plays a US Secret Service agent who stabs, chokes and garrottes his way through an army of masked terrorists of indeterminate Middle East origin on a solo mission to foil a plot to assassinate the world’s leaders gathering in London.

The sequel to the bafflingly-successful 2013 film Olympus Has Fallen, the film was called “extremely insensitive” by families of the victims of the 7/7 bombings after an early trailer was released ahead of last year’s anniversary of the attacks.

Delayed from last year, the latest entry in the “major world capitals destruction porn sub-genre”, as The Hollywood Reporter styles it, feeds a “paranoia” about co-ordinated, wide-scale terrorist attacks following the murder of 130 people in Paris last November, critics said.

Variety condemned the “effortlessly racist” film which reverts to “familiar Islamophobia”. The terror plot is hatched by Pakistani arms dealer who vows vengeance on the West after a fatal drone strike at his daughter’s wedding.

When Butler’s Mike Banning isn’t cracking skulls in defence of the US President, he tells assailants: “Get back to F***headistan or wherever it is you’re from.”

Variety criticised the film’s “reactionary fear-mongering”, which can claim “accidental topicality in the wake of November’s horrific Paris attacks.”

Empire lamented a “violent addition to the terrorsploitation canon” which would inevitably end up on Donald Trump’s DVD shelf.

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Headlining its review “London Has Fallen - into a pit of manure”, the Charlotte Observer asked whether the Iranian-born director Babak Najafi felt “any anxiety about stereotyping people of his religion as murderers and criminals?”

The A.V. Club website said “one of the worst action movies in recent memory” was a “grab bag of dog-whistles and dog-shit filmmaking”.

The film presented a “dumpster of xenophobia, in which the bugaboo of immigrants ‘taking’ jobs is explicitly conflated with terrorism, and brown people are scary enough to turn humanitarian issues into threats to international safety.”

The San Francisco Chronicle said the film “feeds on the nation's current fears about Middle East folks and about the level of terrorism threats within our borders. The producers have made what they intended to make: a paranoid, patriotic popcorn movie.”

Butler acknowledged that the film, which he also produced, could be considered tasteless by audiences, in the light of the Paris attacks. “At the end of the day, it’s a fictional movie. It’s entertainment,” the actor said at the Los Angeles premiere.

“It’s about us winning. It’s about what happens when the shit hits the fan, and who stands up to face the challenge. It’s based on heroism and the good guys kicking ass.”

Co-star Radha Mitchell, who plays Banning’s wife Leah, said the film carried a positive message: “The movie certainly highlights our vulnerability all over the planet — I think we all feel that. If anything, it draws attention to the fact that we really have to find a peace in ourselves and between each other.”

The most shocking aspect of the film, which opens in the UK on 3 March, was the presence of the distinguished actor Morgan Freeman, who appears as the US Vice-President, some critics suggested.

But The Hollywood Reporter said London Has Fallen still had merit. “Butler manfully dispenses justice here many times over, and even if the other main actors are in it strictly for the paycheck, they've all been in a whole lot worse in their time.”

London Has Fallen – Best lines

“Why don’t you pack up your shit and head back to F***headistan?”

“Assholes like you have been trying to kill us for a long time. But in a thousand years we’ll still be here.”

“I'm gonna go get him (the President). You can kill me, or you can come with me. But it ain't gonna go any other way.”

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