By John Campbell
If there is one thing we learn from this blast of pulverising propaganda, it is that the AK47’s accuracy is not worth a pinch of poop if fired at a target more distant than point-blank range – Gerard Butler has at least a g’zillion rounds shot at him, but not one of them finds its mark. Which is ironic in the extreme, given that the arch-villain here is the world’s most infamous and prolific arms dealer. It’s hardly good advertising for his product, is it?
Seeking revenge for a drone attack that killed his daughter at her wedding in Pakistan years earlier, Barkawi (Alon Aboutbul) has orchestrated a massive terrorist attack on London, where the heads of state from all over the western world will be attending the funeral of the British PM. US president Asher (Aaron Eckhart, speaking in a raspy whisper throughout) arrives with his bullet-proof minder, Mike Banning (Butler).
All hell breaks loose at a synchronised moment when scores of gunmen disguised as coppers and grenadiers indiscriminately slaughter all those around them (we didn’t know Paris 13/11 was so entertaining, did we). There are a host of cleverly executed effects, including the demolition of one of the towers of Westminster Abbey and a wing of Parliament House, but none is more breathtakingly accomplished than the explosion on the Albert Bridge.
You can bemoan the overbearing reliance on CGI in mob entertainment these days, but you must concede that it is thoroughly convincing. There is some rudimentary dialogue and a mole to be exposed (he was obvious to me), but it is more or less Gerard versus the barbarians and, after surviving a helicopter crash and crushing car roll, he gets the job done and manages a manly chuckle with Aaron at the end. The bad guys’ headquarters is in Yemen, but great care is taken not to mention a particular religion – the filmmakers wouldn’t want to be seen to be further inciting Islamaphobia would they? … If only I didn’t enjoy it so much.