MOVIE BUFF-ET: London Has Fallen predictable but action-packed

Aaron Eckhart (center) and Gerard Butler (right) in London has Fallen. / Focus Films

I expected very little when I plopped down to watch London Has Fallen, but the action film starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart was better than I expected.

Now mind you, this is not a recommendation. If you are fan of action movies, it features nothing that you haven’t seen before and probably done better. For casual viewing, it would likely work just effectively at home as it would in the theater. If you miss it, you’ve missed nothing really.

New In Local Theaters

  • Meet the Blacks (R) 1 hr 53 min
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne)
    » Watch trailer
  • God’s Not Dead 2 (PG) 2 hr 1 min
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne)
    » Watch trailer
  • I Saw the Light (R) 2 hr 3 min
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Eye in the Sky (R) 1 hr 42 mins
    (Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Oopiri (NR) 2 hr 25 min
    (Malco Rogers Towne)
    » Watch trailer
  • Zootopia (112 Drive Inn) (PG) 1 hr 48 min
    7:45 p.m. Friday-Sunday
    » Watch trailer
  • Daddy’s Home (112 Drive Inn) (PG-13) 1 hr 36 min
    10:10 p.m. Friday-Sunday
    » Watch trailer

However, this is just the sort of movie I would have eaten up in the 1980s when Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were my teen matinee heroes. I could imagine any of the three slipping into Butler’s role as Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who is assigned as the key protector for President Asher (Eckhart). In their prime, Sly or Arnie would have done it with a lot more panache than Butler, and based on his actual martial arts training, Norris would have been more believable.

Butler enjoys watching over Eckhart. The two men have developed as much of a friendship as an agent and a president could. Perhaps the movie’s best scene features the two jogging and joking together. However, Butler’s wife is expecting a baby, and he’s torn between his duty to his country and his duty to his wife and unborn child. A state funeral in London is to be his last mission before he tenders his resignation.

The funeral in London ends up being the target of a massive and complex terrorist attack that has been in the planning stages for years by a Pakistani arms dealer Aamir Barkowi, who has far-reaching influence. A U.S missile attack intended to take out Barkowi failed, but it did kill his daughter on her wedding day.

With London in chaos from Barkowi’s strike, it’s Butler’s duty to find a way to protect the President from the terrorists, who are seeking to capture and then execute him live on the Internet. Meanwhile Freeman, who plays the vice president, is attempting to assist in any way he can in Washington D.C.

Explosions, gun fights, more explosions, car crashes, fisticuffs, knife fights, helicopter crashes and many other forms of mayhem ensue. It’s a serviceable action movie, and Butler, who was also a producer, is OK as the hero. Unfortunately, he’s no Stallone or Schwarzenegger or even Norris.

That being said, if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Tom Cruise had have been the film’s lead, the movie probably would have rocked the box office.

Grade: C

Classics Corner

Westerns don’t begin and end with John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, and proof positive of that is director George Stevens’ 1953 classic Shane. The film stars Alan Ladd in his signature role of a drifting gunslinger who wanders his way into a range war between a ruthless Wyoming cattle baron Rufus Ryker (Emile Meyer) and a group of resolute homesteaders.

Shane sides with the homesteaders and has classic confrontations with noted cowboy stars Ben Johnson and Jack Palance during the course of the film, but the heart of the story is his relationship with a boy named Joey (Brandon deWilde) and his mother Marian, played by Jean Arthur in her final film role and only one in Technicolor.

Shane is not only a great Western but also a great movie, and it is showing on Turner Classic Movies at 7 p.m. Saturday night.

Johnny Weissmuller may not have been the first person to don Tarzan’s loincloth for the silver screen, and his portrayal was not the most faithful ever committed to film, but thanks to playing the character a dozen times in a series of films produced from 1932 to 1948, he was Tarzan for decades of fans.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, Weissmuller’s Tarzan movies were a staple of local television stations around the county. The movies are of their time, and unintentionally comical to modern viewers, but they do have a lot of heart and adventure. While Weissmuller would never be confused with a great actor, his face is emotive, and there definitely is some chemistry going on between him and Maureen O’Sullivan, who played Tarzan’s mate Jane Parker in six of the films. A bit of trivia, O’Sullivan is the mother of Mia Farrow (Rosemary’s Baby and Hannah and Her Sisters).

Saturday at 11 a.m., TCM is airing the first of Weissmuller and O’Sullivan’s appearances as the characters in 1932’s Tarzan of the Apes, and it does feature the scene that inspired all of the “me Tarzan, you Jane” jokes.

Tarzan could be a big deal again this summer. David Yates, director of the last few Harry Potter films, is bringing the Lord of the Jungle back on July 1 with The Legend of Tarzan. The film stars Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) as Tarzan and Margot Robbie (Wolf of Wall Street) as Jane. Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson and Djimon Hounsou are also featured.