Just as Antoine Fuqua's The Equalizer enjoyed a robust opening weekend at the box office (it claimed the #1 spot), the sequel to the director's Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, was having some trouble. The latter's helmsman, Fredrik Bond (Charlie Countryman), quit only a week or so ago, ahead of when filming is scheduled to begin at the end of this forthcoming October. However, it looks as though Bond's replacement has already been found.
THR is reporting that Babak Najafi is in talks to call the shots on London Has Fallen, after such filmmakers as Gary Fleder (Homefront) and Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) were considered for the job in the wake of Bond's departure. The Iranian-Swedish director's previous work includes the sequel Easy Money II: Hard to Kill (a.k.a. Snabba Cash II) and episodes on both the Banshee TV series and the mini-series Banshee Origins. However, if he signs on, then London Has Fallen will be Najafi's English-language feature directorial debut.
London Has Fallen will feature Gerard Butler back as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning, who (in the sequel) uncovers a terrorist plot during the funeral for the British prime minister. The film has an unusual production schedule mapped out, as it will shoot for a month before going on hold until April 2015 - allowing Butler to go off and work on Dean Devlin's sci-fi action/thriller Geostorm during the break.This is why Millennium moved so quickly to find someone to serve at the helm on London, after Bond bowed out.
Fuqua may not be helping to franchise-ize Olympus Has Fallen (he's got other projects in mind), but Olympus screenwriters Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger were also responsible for penning the sequel. The pair have so far carved out a niche for themselves by writing action B-movie throwbacks (see also The Expendables 3), and that doesn't look to change in the future - not even, per se, with their upcoming film adaptation of the iPhone game property, The Drowning.
However, the nostalgia factor isn't so much what makes these films work (or not work), so much as the direction. As evidenced by Fuqua's most recent movies, it's the lead - bringing the old-school one gunman archetype to life - and the filmmaker behind the project, whose ability to infuse new life (and relevance) into this tired formula really makes the difference. Which is to say, not having Fuqua serving as the director on the Olympus Has Fallen sequel is discouraging.
Plus, Najafi is climbing aboard London Has Fallen at the eleventh hour - not an ideal situation for anyone, much less someone who's getting their feet wet for the first time in the Hollywood studio system. Then again, the bar isn't so high that someone like Najafi - who's proven capable of delivering competent B-grade action fare in the past - shouldn't be able to clear it... with a little help, of course.
London Has Fallen opens in U.S. theaters on October 2nd, 2015.