Focus Features 139 minutes R
Here is a film with a great cast in a franchise that many think is unnecessary to continue. And there may be another one coming! This may be Gerard Butler’s best action film yet. He’s bulked up and superhero-ready in this film where, once again, as Mike Banning, he’s protecting the President, played by Aaron Eckhardt. Angela Bassett is the Director of the Secret Service and Morgan Freeman is the Vice President who even Eckhardt jokingly said he modeled his role after and says Freeman should have played the President. Butler says when Freeman walks on the set, everything changes. Even the crew gets excited.
The special effects blowing up everything from the Tower of London, bridges along the Thames, Westminster Cathedral and every other landmark will make you cringe at the possibility of it really happening. And the shoot ‘em up chases will get your heart pumping, But it’s really Saturday matinee material, almost like a long, action-packed video game.
When the British Prime Minister suddenly dies under mysterious circumstances, world leaders gather for the funeral which turns out to be a set up. The mission is destroy London, kill as many world leaders as possible and kidnap and kill the President of the United States. Game on. When the President goes missing, Freeman as Vice President Allan Trumbull takes over.
This time Butler and the President spend a lot of time together running around London. The car chases have guns blazing and Butler hanging out of a car door shooting it up like the wild west. He's taking on the bad guys from a car instead of a horse! And then there’s the air battle between missiles and the President’s helicopter with a spectacular crash that they walk away from. Really?
The choreography of the gun battle scenes underground in tube tunnels and under buildings as Butler hunts down the terrorists trying to find the President is highly complicated. Butler says shooting the long sequences was hard, and they’d have to stop and start again when little things went wrong. A gun wouldn’t go off, or someone wouldn’t hit the mark. But he didn’t mind. He thought it was great fun.
Butler is passionate talking about how much fun he had shooting this film in exciting cities like London and Sofia, Bulgaria. “There’s nothing better than sitting in a cinema being excited, being scared with your adrenalin going.” If you suspend disbelief, it will get your heart pumping.” It did. Hard to watch the threats from enemies of the United States using every kind of destruction and even beheadings. It also deals with operatives on the inside trying to take the U.S. down. We knew who the mole was right away.
This is Swedish Director Babak Najafi’s first American feature film. He’s done a credible job working with a number of writers including Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt who created the characters. There is an attempt at human emotion with Banning trying to leave his job because his wife is pregnant and about to deliver their first child. But when the President calls, Banning is there. Of course.
Is this worth your bucks? It’s not the greatest film you’ll see this year, but there’s plenty to look at, especially if you like to look at Gerard Butler. He’s a hunk in this one and painted as a superhero. Can’t believe he hasn’t been tapped for something bigger. But there’s not much more you have to do if you can save the President. One major flaw in the film and it’s kind of a spoiler. If the President IS saved, wouldn’t you want to see him at the end of the film? Maybe that’s the draw. You’ll have to see what he looks like after surviving some rough stuff POTUS went through when you see the beginning of the next film, If there is one.