Downing Street is under siege in this action movie whose most realistic aspect is how easy it is to get into Number 10.
This rip-off of Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down (let’s call it Whitehall Down) sees 10 Downing Street infiltrated by a terrorist who looks and rattles off material like Ricky Gervais (Kill Keith‘s Simon Phillips) under the cover of an anti-war protest, those bloody terrorism enablers. Where the US has an implicit ‘save the President’ cachet (until Trump obviously) the UK has no such feeling towards its premier, which explains why nobody made this film before 2014 back when the office of Prime Minister was still kind of a thing.
Director/co-writer Paul Tanter appears to fundamentally misunderstand what 10 Downing Street is (it’s a house), plonking a machinery room in the basement and a security bunker accessible by swipe card like it’s an office for a knock-off production company or something. He also has swathes of off-screen action exposited by newsreaders and mistakes people getting shot in the head for excitement, his action gridlocked by inaudible dialogue and sub-Police, Camera, Action! production values.
Ricky Gervais’ aims are never explained beyond his wanting to rob the government of its PR budget, in which case he could have just joined the Lib Dems. The best that can be said for He Who Dares is it doesn’t take itself seriously and manages a few laughs, usually by accident but sometimes with Whitehall references including a man getting stabbed with an umbrella and a nod to Plebgate. Here it should have leaned in further, maybe with a tarantula on the loose à la Gavin Williamson.
Though preposterous, the movie paradoxically seems more realistic than if this actually happened in real life (Boris Johnson throwing his staff at terrorists, Liz Truss handling negotiations etc). And although the Gerard Butler surrogate (Tom Benedict Knight) makes agent Mike Banning look good by comparison, the film is no stupider than Olympus Has Fallen and way better than London Has Fallen. The problem is that the story is as empty as the Deputy PM’s office, aiming for The Thick of It but ending up thick as shit.