The third entrant in what I can only assume we’re referring to as “The Fallen Trilogy”, Angel Has Fallen very much operates as its own, 1980’s-type actioner that works for both audiences familiar with the previous entries – 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen and 2016’s London Has Fallen – and those unversed.
After thwarting a duo of prior assassination attempts on the President of the United States (played in the previous films by Aaron Eckhart), Angel… opts to not entirely repeat history (though our POTUS here is in the firing line) and instead places Gerard Butler’s U.S. Secret Service Agent Mike Banning as the subject of termination. He’s been around the block a few times, always managing to evade ultimate fatality, with his line of work leading him to a painkiller addiction that he’s keeping secret from his doting wife (Piper Perabo, replacing Radha Mitchell) and his Presidential boss (Morgan Freeman, graduating from Vice President).
Almost as if director Ric Roman Waugh (Snitch) and his band of screenwriters (including action aficionado Robert Mark Kamen, who has Lethal Weapon 3, The Fugitive, The Fifth Element and the Taken series to his name) were aware of the heavy criticism thrown at the previous titles – two-dimensional characters, unnecessary violence, an inexplicable focus on racism and sexism in its material – Angel… does its best to humanise Banning by showcasing his home-life as a husband and father, as well as a look-in to his past with the arrival of his gruff, indecipherable father (Nick Nolte), a conspiracy nut who conveniently has rigged out his hideaway with enough explosives to stage a spectacular set-piece.
As it takes a few pot swings at American politics and the outside (cough Russian cough) influences on the war on terror, Angel… plays very much by the action handbook as Banning evades the authorities (namely Jada Pinkett Smith’s no-nonsense FBI agent) for the 121 minute running time (FAR longer than a film of this ilk needs to be) in a bid to clear his innocence when he’s accused of masterminding a plot to kill the President. We of course know of his innocence, and if Freeman’s Obama-ish leader wasn’t confined to a comatose state for the better part of the film than he would know too, but there’s no fun in the truth so much of the film devotes itself to shaky cam fight sequences, overblown action stunts, and some questionable green screen that somehow the film’s $80 million budget couldn’t perfect.
Fans of the original two films, or those enthused by the Butler brand of mindless action, are likely to enjoy the simplicities of Angel…, and had it tightened its ingredients I may have been able to recommend this beyond the built-in fanbase, but when the action genre of late has delivered such taut, smart affairs, it’s hard to not want more than the basic level this fluff piece is operating on. That being said, this is perfect Friday night fodder for its undemanding target audience, and I imagine Butler meeting this brief is enough to deem this tried threequel a serviceable success.
About Angel Has Fallen
Secret Service Agent Mike Banning is framed for the attempted assassination of the President and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat.
Angel Has Fallen (MA15+) is screening in Australian theatres from August 22nd 2019.