In 2013 an action film about terrorists attacking the White House with only one man who can save the day was released. It was a fun whiz bang film with a fun lead ripe for a franchise. And that film was White House Down. But that franchise never got off the ground, instead Olympus Has Fallen made more money against its budget. Olympus has garnered two sequels, London Has Fallen and the latest Angel Has Fallen. I remember watching London Has Fallen recently and didn’t realize I had already seen the film until I was halfway into the film. These aren’t amazing/memorable action films, but they can be fun in their own ways.
“If you don’t train like it’s real, you’re dead when it is.”
In our third outing with super badass government agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) we do get some fresh ideas. After all intense fights a toll has been taken on his body. Fearing these issues will be reason to force him into retirement Banning conceals his symptoms. In the meantime an evil Private Military Company frames Banning for attempting to assassinate President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and now Banning is on the run from his government and the people trying to frame him. This all sounds like a convoluted overly complicated plot, but honestly everything is pretty straightforward.
There’s no attempts at trying to ‘subvert expectations’ of the audience which is refreshing. The bad guys are obviously bad from the start, Banning is the badass loner we root for, and almost every other character (with a sole exception) is just there for the ride. And we can discuss for days whether or not action films need plot, but does it matter? This series has pretty much stated from the beginning that all it wants to be is a throwback to the meathead action films of the late 80’s/early 90’s.
The cast of these films have always been a big draw. Butler is a charismatic actor who can handle most of the stunts thrown at him. And in spite of Freeman having flat out stated he does these films for the paychecks he still gives the role more effort than most people who take roles for the money (i.e. Bruce Willis). For me the best performance in Angel Has Fallen came from franchise freshman Nick Nolte. Playing Banning’s grizzled father as a veteran living off the grid in the woods made for some great moments between Butler and Nolte.
And in all honesty, we know Nolte is a great actor even given the most mediocre screenplay. The big problem lies in the film’s villain portrayed by Danny Huston. His casting is a prime example of what I call the Mission: Impossible problem. In four of those films they cast the main villains with phenomenal actors (Jon Voight, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Nyqvist, & Sean Harris) who lack any sort of physical threat towards the hero. Once you see Huston you know he and Butler are going to square off in the finale. You also have no doubt in your mind that Butler will clean Huston’s clock in fight.
“People are gonna fall, but not you sir.”
To the film’s credit I will say that many of the key action sequences were pretty fun. Seeing Nolte’s shack in the middle of the woods getting flanked by elite soldiers only for him to basically blow up the entire forest is a blast. But, the major problem I have is in the main crux of the plot. How can people assume that the government agent who has twice saved the life of a sitting President turn against his government? And while they try to give people reason to doubt Banning it’s flimsy at best.
In the end it’s the 3rd and probably final film in a series that wasn’t all that worthwhile. Angel Has Fallen has some fun moments that will keep people entertained for two hours. After that it will be completely forgotten and relegated to popping up on streaming services in the next few years. And it definitely pales in comparison to another action sequel (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum) that came out this year.
Overall Score 2/5