Directed by Ric Roman Waugh
Produced by Gerard Butler/Alan Siegel/Matt O’Toole/John Thompson/Les Weldon/Yariv Lerner
Screenplay by Robert Mark Kamen/Matt Cook/Ric Roman Waugh
Story by Creighton Rothenberger/Katrin Benedikt
Based on Characters by Creighton Rothenberger/Katrin Benedikt
In order to fully enjoy and appreciate ANGEL HAS FALLEN I think it’s best that you forget the events of the two previous movies in the series. Why? because apparently the characters in this movie have forgotten them as well. It’s almost as if ANGEL HAS FALLEN is a third movie in a series unrelated to the first two movies. Let me give you a quick recap. In “Olympus Has Fallen” Secret Service agent Mike Banning single-handedly takes on an army of heavily armed mercenaries who have successfully assaulted and taken over The White House. Mike slaughters all the mercenaries, saves The President of The United States and most of his senior staff. In “London Has Fallen” Mike Banning single-handedly takes on an army of terrorists who have attacked London during the funeral of The Prime Minister, an event attended by most of the world leaders. Mike slaughters all the terrorists, saves The President of The United States and most of his senior staff. I trust you get the gist.
Now, it only makes good logical sense that after such events, Mike Banning would be a national hero, right? And even if his role in those events were classified from the press and public, among U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agents, Banning would be held in high regard, correct?
So why is that after an assassination attempt on President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is accused of being the mastermind behind the attempt? And everybody, even those who have worked with and know Mike to be a stand-up guy are so quick to believe he’s guilty? Oh, sure, FBI Special Agent Helen Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) finds that Mike has ten million dollars in an offshore account and his DNA is in the van from where a flock of attack drones were launched. And Mike has been acting strange lately but that’s due to him keeping his insomnia and spinal pains a secret. He’s been seeing doctors on the sly and popping painkillers like they’re M&Ms. Even his wife Leah (Piper Perabo) doesn’t know about Mike’s health issues. All of this is enough for everybody to be convinced that Mike is indeed guilty.
See, I was waiting for somebody to stand up and say; “Hey, waitaminnit…Mike’s a smart guy who knows all our protocols and techniques and he would know better than anybody what we would look for right away. Wouldn’t he have covered his tracks better? And why would a guy who’s gone through all he’s gone through suddenly turn around and decide to kill The President? What’s his motive? And for all his service to the country, shouldn’t we give him the benefit of the doubt and hear his side of the story?”
Nope. Nobody’s interested in hearing a thing Mike has to say. He’s shipped off to a supermax but the convoy transporting him is ambushed and his guards all killed. Mike manages to kill the ambushers and goes on the run. The only person he can go to for help is his half-crazed hermit father Clay (Nick Nolte) a Vietnam Tunnel Rat who long ago turned his back on society and now lives off the land and more importantly off the grid. With his dad’s help, Mike is determined to find out who set him up and why and keep the President safe from another attack that he knows is coming.
Don’t get me wrong; once we get past the clumsy set-up and into the action, ANGEL HAS FALLEN moves along at a crowd-pleasing clip. This is an action movie that doesn’t forget it’s supposed to deliver on the action. And as I said earlier, if you ignore that there were two previous movies in the series and take this as a stand-alone, it goes down a lot easier. I myself wish the plot was as outrageous as the first two. But the presidential assassination plot is straight out of a 1980s Action Movie and I easily could have seen Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, Stallone or Norris starring as Mike Banning if this movie had been made back then. I’ve always appreciated the 1980s Action Movie DNA of this series and they all have been perfectly dependable “Die Hard” knock-offs. In fact, I’ve always said that “Olympus Has Fallen” was a better “Die Hard” movie than the actual “Die Hard” sequel released in that same year; “A Good Day To Die Hard.”
By now, Gerard Butler can dodge explosions and blizzards of bullets with the best of them. But it’s Nick Nolte and the always dependable Piper Perabo who walk off with the acting honors in this one. Even at the age of 78, Nick Nolte can more than carry his share of the load in a movie like this and he knows how to make the best of the few scenes he has with Butler to establish a relationship that’s believable. I wish I could say more about Jada Pinkett Smith other than she’s too busy trying to be Tommy Lee Jones in “The Fugitive” to establish her own character but hey, it is what it is. And if you’ve been watching Action Movies as long as I have then the reveal of the bad guy won’t be a surprise as right from his first scene he might as well be wearing a sign saying; “You will curse me for my sudden but inevitable betrayal.” Lance Reddick and Tim Blake Nelson are also here in roles that put absolutely no demand on their considerable acting talents but I always enjoy seeing them on screen.
ANGEL HAS FALLEN isn’t anywhere near as good as “Olympus Has Fallen” or “London Has Fallen” but if you’ve seen the first two movies then you might as well see this one. It’s not a spectacular way to end 2019’s Summer Movie Season but it’s not bad if you’re looking for an entertaining time waster.