By Gabriel Lorenzo
I chose to analyze “London Has Fallen” directed by Babak Najafi. Written by Creighton Rothenberger, this film is a sequel of “Olympus Has Fallen” with the same main characters Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), Speaker Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). The film is a sequel however the stories of both films are not related.
The movie is circled around a master terrorist plan to take out the world’s most powerful leaders. It starts with the death of the British Prime Minister. This death spawns a huge funeral event for only all of the world’s most powerful leaders to attend. It becomes the most protected event in history. American President Benjamin Asher shows up to the funeral in a smart way, having kept presence to the funeral classified to surprise people as well as for security purposes. Once the President revealed himself, the attacks on the world leaders began. The funeral became a warzone as the secret terrorists open fired at the funeral. Secret Service Agent Mike Banning comes into play to defend the President and secure him back to the United States. The problem with that is the terrifying part. Who can Mike Banning consider an ally? The terrorists are from all nations, like a nation of terrorists faction, which makes it hard to know who is on the side of Mike Banning and President Benjamin Asher. The terrorists were some of the local cops, the swat team, the crowd control policemen, the air force, and the secret service. Behind the terrorists is the main head of the terrorists, who has a strong motive. His sister was killed by an American attack on his homeland that is not described. Mike Banning’s mission is to get the President alive, back to the United States. The mission grows tougher as he has to guide the President through London rather than just a building like in the prequel “Olympus has Fallen.”
There are many characters in the movie with not much time, so they are kind of like a cameo. Then there are the main characters of the movie that have a huge impact on the story of the film. Main character Mike Banning is one the most important character even though he is not the President of the United States. Almost every main character of movies are considered round, or if not, the most round character in a film. Banning shows three different faces of himself in this film. First as a secret service agent, as best friend to President Benjamin Banner, and last, as a husband. The directors made it clear that they wanted to show to the viewers the different sides of Banning so he was not just a serious character all of the time. That would make him a simple, and predictable character. The scene where it is revealed that Banning has a family was a way to make Banning realistic, just another guy-kind of person. This scene connects to viewers and expresses to the viewer Banning and his wife can be you and your husband/wife. When his wife, Leah Banning, reveals to agent Banning that she is pregnant, Banning opens up with emotion the audience does not see anywhere else in the movie.
Agent Mike Banning’s relationship with President Benjamin Asher makes Banning round because the President is one of Banning’s best friends. The movie starts off with both agent Banning and President Asher together, just like in the prequel movie “Olympus Has Fallen.” The dialogue shared between the characters conveys to the viewer that both parties know each other well. They converse like close friends, look at each other like close friends,and their body language towards each other makes it clear to the viewer. When President Asher’s life is in the hands of the terrorist leader, he is saved by agent Banning right in the nick of time. President Asher then asks agent Banning, “What took you so long?” Agent banning replies saying “Sorry, I was running a few errands.”
President Asher is a bit round, given his job as the president, then as a friend to agent Banning. The rest of the characters like Speaker Trumbull, British, M16 agent and Deputy Chief Mason are flat characters that have one specific role that never changes.
The music sets the tone and gives the audience implication of the current mood. The cinematic score is not so great because the music sounds as if it is in the background, or lower volume and not the main focus of the movie. It is an effective way to focus on the movie’s The majority of the music is very patriotic, which matches up with the entire movie’s emphasis. When the General of defense, Secretary of Defense, Secret Service Director, Deputy Chief Mason, and other executive branch members are shown, the music is serious to match the direct, urgent, and strict diction the characters speak in. I found it hard in the movie to laugh in any scene that the music did not loosen up the tension.
The scene where agent Banning realizes he will be a father, the music is more romantic, smoother, softer, and emotional. Leah Banning’s facial expressions, emotions, watery eyes, mixed with the music, the viewer understands the scene is meant to be a sentimental one. The most dramatic scene in the movie is when President Asher is captured by the head terrorist and is being live streamed across the globe for the world to see. This scene has the most tension while drawing the most emotion from the viewers because there is no music. In that scene you see Speaker Trumbull says, “Oh my god.” This helps takes the mood to an even higher notch. That scene is then followed by agent Banning crashing into the torture room and shooting up the place. The music automatically jumps to a louder, uptempo audio to assist in rising the action higher. The music behind the camera angles and shots was to me the most important part of the movie.
There is a bunch of camera angles in this movie that made me have to do more research. For most of the movie, there is nothing but reaction shots. You see agent Banning react to a joke President Asher may say, or right before agent Banning is about to pistol-whip someone with his gun. This happens pretty fast in every fight scene. You see the reaction shot when a terrorist is about to shoot his gun. Reaction shots are the easiest way for cinematographers to have the audience know the mood the character are in. One of the biggest examples is when the president is taken hostage (Mentioned this scene plenty of times, but there is a lot that goes on that particular scene!) by the head terrorists. The cameras make a bunch of cuts from the faces of the people in the room, showing their anger towards the President. Then when the President is live in front of the world, the camera cuts to Speaker Trumbull’s face for the audience to see all the fear on his face. When the terrorist pulls out the huge machete and places it on the President’s shoulder, the camera cuts to Chief Deputy Mason. The Mason looks away from the television screen and says, “I’m sorry but I can’t look at this.” I personally, when this scene filled up with reaction camera shots with the fearful reactions of the generals and secretaries made me feel that I could not watch any more of the movie because it was that emotional. I enjoyed that scene because the reaction shots made me scared to watch sitting on the edge of my chair.
There was a series of subjective/point of view camera angles in the movie too. When characters had conversations amongst each other, the camera was placed over the shoulder of one of the characters to show the viewer what the character with the camera over the shoulder is feeling/seeing in
that scene. This is a camera angle you see in almost all serious action type movies, that cut every 5 or 7 seconds to the shoulder of the opposite character in that scene. To me all this does is help me keep up with the conversation the characters are having. I feel like as a viewer when that is happening, I have to pay close attention.
Of course, with all the action in this movie with guns, and close combat, this movie would not make any sense without a closeup montage. This is a famous scene used in movies that shows characters preparing with exercise, a new gun, a new armor, etc. In this movie, you see agent Banning many times gear up with new guns and body armor. This gets the viewer ready for more action about to come up in the movie. There a few scenes where the dutch angle technique is used. More specifically in the fight scenes, the tilted fight scenes with the shaking camera is a combination that brings more action into the already action filled scene. Mixed with multiple camera cuts showing different angles of the characters fighting tells the viewer that the characters are pretty much acting on instinct, swinging behind them without a second thought, shooting while backing down the wall, popping in and out of the line of fire, the building exploding, and of course the focus.
The color setting in London Has Fallen is a tint of blue, giving the movie the same tone and mood the music makes it, serious. Watching the movie you can tell what mood each scene is by the color. The blue scenes indicated the seriousness of the certain scene. The scene where agent Banning is told he will become a father, his wife and him are wearing a white shirt in a bright white-lit room. This indicates calmness within the characters, as well as a free atmosphere that is proper for an emotional scene. What makes it interesting is that right after agent Banning discovers he will be a dad, he gets emotional about the news, backing up the point of the bright white tint in the scene. When the action with the shooting and fighting starts, the color tint of the scenes are darker. This is complementary
to the bullets flashing, the fires flaring, the smoke, and bullets falling onto the floor. The dark lit tint is perfect for all the action, as it gives the action scenes that explosive, aggressive mood.
This movie includes many techniques in cinematography that I could not have noticed before taking this class. In order to understand the little things like the dutch angles, the blue color tint, the point of view camera angle, I had to watch the movie several times to verify my emotions/reaction to a certain decision by director Babak Najafi. I thought the movie was great, from a viewer’s perspective, and as an analytical perspective. What I feel I should point out, is that this movie dealt with the same main characters as the prequel, yet there is nothing about the storyline that carries over from the “Olympus Has Fallen,” prequel. There is no carry over from the first movie which I thought was weird. The only real distinction I noticed that is different between the movies is that in Olympus has Fallen, President Asher starts the movie already being held hostage, and agent Mike Banning must help escort him out of the White House Building. In London Has Fallen, agent Mike Banning has to escort the President out of London in general. This was a well-planned video, where everything is planned down to the tee. Fun to do this movie especially having never watched the prequel.