There are movies that excite us, bring us to tears and inspire us. Then there are the ones that just drain us. Angel Has Fallen is one of those films, marking the third entry in the Fallen franchise in which Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) squares off against nameless terrorists attempting to assassinate the President of the United States. While these films have attempted to follow in the footsteps of Die Hard, they are nowhere as memorable or iconic. So how does this third entry compare to its predecessors? And, is Gerard Butler still an action hero we can love?
In this wild movie universe, the President has been attacked on numerous occasions and, with this newest entry it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that another attempt on his life happens. President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) has since left office, although neither the film nor its characters mentions that fact, leaving and former Vice President Trumball (Morgan Freeman) in charge as the world’s most powerful man. The movie opens with a training op organized by Banning’s long-time friend Wade Jennings (Danny Huston), who runs a private military contract group by the name of Salient Global. You can easily guess where this is going.
Following the events of the previous film London Has Fallen, Mike has been having some medical problems. He has trouble sleeping, shows signs of trauma due to all the fights he’s been in and is addicted to painkillers. He’s in line to become the Director of the Secret Service, a desk job essentially, but Mike presses on because he’s a “lion.” Having been a military man in his youth, protect and serve is something Banning has always done. This would explain his skills at being so difficult to kill while trying to protect the President.
During a fishing trip, however, the President is attacked by a massive drone strike. These drones, however, don’t fire bullets or missiles, but instead blow up upon contact. They kill every agent in the surrounding area except for Banning, who’s spared by the person operating the drones via remote control. Banning saves the President by swimming in the freezing lake but after being rescued, Trumball is left in a coma and evidence has surfaced that Banning is the man who planned this attack.
You get the idea now. Banning is arrested, he breaks free, the government operatives chase after him, shootouts occur, knife fights and of course, explosions and lots of dead people. If one looks closely at these films, they only work when the hero is the smartest person in the movie and everyone else is stupid. Take for example, that everyone thinks Banning is guilty based on the flimsy evidence collected. Never mind he’s saved the President before but his record has no bearing whatsoever on this guilty verdict, nor his past with the previous President! I also loved a sequence when Banning is being transported to a secure location but the only security consists of the van he’s in and two police cars. Why not use more vehicles or even call in air support in case, oh I don’t know, something happens!?
The script is weakly executed, the characters are so stupid that’s it’s rather amusing when they’re killed and even the movie’s villain is barely interesting, as he’s used as a pawn to set into motion a bigger picture! There are plenty of action sequences in the film, and one of which, in Banning managed to flee from police in a semi-truck, was a pretty cool moment. That enjoyable scene aside, overall I sat in the theater for two hours waiting for something interesting to happen. Nothing did, except for when Banning finds his dad (played by Nick Nolte) and their time together garnered some laughs from the audience.
Verdict 1 out of 5
Angel Has Fallen is two hours of guns, explosions and swearing all while trying to engage its audience in an action movie that feels more tiresome than entertaining. Watching this almost made me go to sleep; in fact a man sitting just a couple of seats down from me in the theater was yawning with less than ten minutes remaining. The Fallen franchise is a forgettable trilogy that lacks intelligence and any sense of fun or joy, instead being constant noise with no substance. Butler is a good actor and passable action hero, but he can do far better than this film.