© Universum/Walt Disney

Angel Has Fallen
U.S.A. 2019

Opening 29 Aug 2019

Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh
Writing credits: Robert Mark Kamen, Matt Cook, Ric Roman Waugh, Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
Principal actors: Gerard Butler, Piper Perabo, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Danny Huston

Gerard Butler reprises his role as Mike Banning, a secret service agent who invariably struggles to protect the US president (in a change from the first two films, the president is now Trumbull, played by Morgan Freeman). In Olympus Has Fallen (2013) the president was attacked in the White House; in London Has Fallen (2016) the president was attacked on a trip overseas. In this latest installment, the president is attacked… on a lake. When Banning is suspected of having a hand in the assassination plot, he must act alone to discover the perpetrators while also on the run from his own people.

Was anyone really asking for this mediocre sequel to two mediocre films to be made? The whole Fallen series never manages to overcome the fact that they are an odd throwback to some of the worst 90’s action films, filled with violence and without anything of worth to say. Angel Has Fallen puts on a veneer of social astuteness with some mild anti-war statements, but this is belied by the gratuitous shots of bodies flying in explosions and scenes where Butler brutally stabs people during hand-to-hand combat. Maybe this could be forgiven if there was any cleverness or feeling in the characters and plot, but the whole endeavor feels soulless.

Angel Has Fallen is a perfect example of what not to do when making an action film. The story follows the formula so closely, that it is easy to determine who the baddies are within the first ten minutes. What follows are two tedious hours which drag by while director Ric Roman Waugh forces the audience to watch more and more people be exploded, shot to death, or violently killed in some other over-the-top manner. It is as if he thought that if one explosion is good, then an uncountable amount of explosions must make for a terrific film. Also, let it be said that while the idea of an extended chase scene with a Mack truck probably sounded cool in the writer’s room, but the end result was so mind-numbingly boring that it almost became a parody of itself. And maybe that is all Angel Has Fallen really is in the end, a film that has simplified the action genre to its worst aspects and to such a degree that it would have been better served as a satire.

Maybe some people will like this third, and hopefully final, installment of the series. There are certainly enough ridiculous deaths to make it worth watching as drinking game fodder. However, for anyone with even the slightest discernment of taste, it is best to give this film a hard pass. (Rose Finlay)

Second Opinion

Following on Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016), in this installment of the Fallen series Secret Service Agent Michael Banning (Butler) is detailed to now President Allan Trumbull (Freeman). Director Ric Roman Waugh, as a former stuntman, hones the meaning of fast-paced action, while expanding on personal relationships in this drawn out episode.

Banning is on the verge of a promotion, not feeling the best physically, and enjoying family life with Leah (Perabo) and daughter in Virginia. Veteran buddy Wade (Huston), on the other hand, has an international business that not so long ago was thriving. Currently, the “lions” are still close, albeit the powers that be in Washington, D.C. are forging new paths. Then, a routine assignment turns Mike’s life inside out when an assignation attempt is made on the president’s life. FBI Thompson (Pinkett Smith) cuffs Banning while in hospital; Vice President Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson) is accusatory, and Secret Service Director Gentry (Lance Reddick) is skeptic.

Having a seasoned cast adds idimension to the characters, particularly Oscar® nominated Nick Nolte as Banning’s irascible, estranged father. Per political tenacity and gains, in the Fallen series Allan Trumbull/Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman has moved through positions as Speaker of the House, and V.P. to the top-level. Production values are sound: Gabriel Fleming editing, and director of photography Jules O'Loughlin; the countless stunt people and coordinators deserve special kudos.

A double entendre exists in the title: Banning’s personal uncertainties, and professional doubts add a psychological perspective resulting from Gerard Butler and Ric Roman Waugh’s collaboration. Also, there are current political overtones in the script, a core theme revolves around choices people make, plus, there is a surprising Summit scene near the end. Fallen diehards will notice President Turnbull is just a half-year into his first four-year term… Even so, Angel Has Fallen is packed with never-ending action, and few surprises. (Marinell Haegelin)

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