In 2013, Millenium Films released Antoine Fuqua's action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, the story of a disgraced Secret Service Agent attempting to single-handedly thwart a terrorist attack on the White House. Despite a similar film (White House Down) being released that same year, the film was ultimately a financial success and earned a followup.
Millenium Films quickly greenlit the sequel, London Has Fallen, and announced that stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett were all set to reprise their roles. The sequel was going to be released in Fall 2015, but the movie was hit with some bad luck when then-director Fredrick Bond quit only weeks before filming was to begin. Millenium quickly found a replacement in Iranian-Swedish director Babak Najafi, but the sequel was ultimately delayed to January 2016.
Despite the delay, or perhaps because of it, Millenium Films has now released the first image from London Has Fallen. Empire was behind the reveal, which you can see below. The scene depicts Gerard Butler's Mike Banning dispatching a presumed terrorist in the Charing Cross railway station located in central London. The surrounding rubble coupled with the blood stains on his shirt indicate the attack on the eponymous city has already begun.
Butler also voiced his fondness for the 'Has Fallen' series, as part of the Empire article. To quote the actor directly:
"It's a fun franchise. You get to do a lot of really badass action, but it's got its tongue firmly in its cheek."
London Has Fallen picks up after the events of Olympus Has Fallen, with Mike Banning once again a part of the U.S. president's security detail. Banning accompanies President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart) to London for the funeral of the UK's Prime Minister. The leaders of the Western World gather for the funeral, but despite the high levels of security a terrorist plot soon unfolds. It falls to Banning and an unnamed MI-6 agent (Charlotte Riley) to save the day and prevent an attack that could change the future of the free world.
Director Babak Najafi previously worked on the film Easy Money II: Hard to Kill (AKA Snabba Cash II) as well as some episodes of Banshee, but London Has Fallen will be the director's English-language feature film debut. That coupled with the fact Antoine Fuqua won't be returning to the budding franchise is enough to give fans pause. The first film, while not perfect, was largely successful due to tongue-in-cheek central character grounded by dramatic side characters. Despite the over-the-top nature of the hero, Fuqua infused him with vitality that drew in the audience. It will be a challenge for Najafi to replicate that sense in the sequel.
Then again, original screenwriters Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger came back to pen the sequel. The two entered the scene with Olympus has Fallen and co-wrote The Expendables III with Sylvester Stallone (the latter film wasn't as well received as Olympus, though). Returning to the characters that made them a success might reignite the writing duo's creative spark, and result in a sequel that's as much fun as its predecessor.
London Has Fallen opens in U.S. theaters on January 22, 2016.