Orange Wednesday: London has Fallen (2016) and A Bear Named Winnie (2004)

Winnie The Bear

Every Wednesday, TMINE reviews some movies and infringes a trademarked former mobile phone company’s marketing gimmick

So, given that Netflix makes movies now and Wednesday’s now free of WHYBW, I figured I’d make an earnest stab at watching a reviewing at least one movie a week from now on, in a feature I dabbled with calling “Hurt me, Gunther, make me bleed” but decided better of it.

First up are two very different movies, neither of which is especially new, but which will at least kick things off nicely.

London Has Fallen

London Has Fallen (2016) (available on iTunes)

Surprisingly not dreadful but still reasonably xenophobic and ludicrous sequel to Olympus Has Fallen that sees Gerard Butler once again having to protect US President Aaron Eckhart from a bunch of terrorists. This time, however, the action shifts to London and the terrorists are actually out to get every world leader – and they’ve got a few already.

Given Butler is Scottish and both a producer and financier of London Has Fallen, don’t be too surprised that he’s had enough clout over things to ensure that we don’t get a totally weird, US view of London and the UK, but something a bit closer to our reality. There are familiar landmarks and unfamiliar estates, and when the SAS turn up – which they would, of course – they’re sympathetically handled.

That said, there are niggles all over the place, including petty ones like Colin Salmon heading up Scotland Yard yet only being a Chief Inspector. Plus there’s a touch of the Fox News in the idea that there’s both a Deep State working behind the scenes in the UK government and that Islamist terrorists have infiltrated the police, et al in large numbers.

Importantly, though, while Olympus Has Fallen was ultimately ‘Die Hard in the White House’, London Has Fallen does switch up the formula considerably, making the whole thing more of a running, jumping bit of guerrilla warfare, interspersed with pitched battles, which lends itself to an entirely different form of action. Butler doesn’t have to handle everything by himself, with various others in the field with him to sort out the baddies in their own ways.

It’s nothing too remarkable, mind, but if you want a decent and unchallenging action pic on home soil, London Has Fallen‘s got the adrenalin shot you’ll need.

A Bear Named Winnie

A Bear Named Winnie (2004) (free on Amazon Prime)

A TV movie from CBC (Canada), starring a very young Michael Fassbender, as well as Stephen Fry and David Suchet, that tells the true story of Harry Colebourn, who served with the Canadian veterinary corps during the First World War. While heading off from Winnipeg for the front line in Europe, he buys a bear cub who ends up becoming the corps mascot and he thusly names Winnipeg – Winnie for short.

Of course, you can’t take a bear to the front line, so Colebourn ends up leaving the incredibly tame bear in the hands of zoo keeper Stephen Fry at the London Zoo, where she becomes very popular with the children who even get to play with her. So popular, in fact, that one Christopher Robin Milne decides to rename his own bear, Edward, Winnie…

Although for copyright reasons, that can’t be mentioned in the movie itself.

Given that there aren’t that many details to the story available, the movie is simply an extrapolation of what happened, but quite a timid one. As a result, action jumps around a lot, with the entire War passing in the space of a scene, for example. It also doesn’t quite know who its audience is and what it wants to do with what story it has, so one moment it’s all about immigration, the next it’s about gallant Canadian lads fighting under the command of drink-sodden, class-obsessed English generals (Suchet), then it’s about PTSD and then it’s a comedy about trying to keep ‘the beaks’ from knowing you have a bear in your suitcase. Or their suitcase.

But even though at times it feels a little like an extended episode of The Littlest Hobo but with a bear instead of a dog, it’s still a moving affair with some delightful bears. Fassbender’s accent is as variably Irish as normal – he goes for Irish-Canadian, which give Colebourn was from Birmingham in the UK originally, is an odd choice – but you’re probably used to that, and you can spot the likes of Aaron Ashmore and Gil Bellows in minor roles. There are some impressive period details and everyone has a lot of fun.

Worth a watch if you fancy some lovely family viewing.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.