Angel Has Fallen
Starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Danny Huston, Tim Blake Nelson, Piper Parabo, Lance Reddick
There was a time back in the ’90s, where action films had believable plots. You could have a thrill ride like “The River Wild” or “Air Force One” for instance, with brilliant lead performances, gripping action scenes and everything in the story was plausible. Then came the era of special effects, which gave us out of this world storytelling abilities, pushing plausibility down the stairs. Now we’re in an era where most action movies are nothing more than a series of stunts and special effects, believability is no longer a factor. The Olympus/London/Angel has Fallen series are more influenced by video game culture than true action movie elements. Blatantly more obvious than the previous installments, “Angel has Fallen” reveals the bad guys in the first five minutes and then proceeds to copy the plot outline for 1993’s “The Fugitive” (a rare, Oscar-winning action film) for the remainder of the second act.
Allan Trumball (Freeman) has ascended from Speaker of the House to Vice President and now President of the United States. Through it all, Secret Service Superstar Mike Banning (Butler) has always kept him safe. However, the attack on Washington in 2013, the terrorist takeover of London in 2016, have taken a toll on Banning’s physical and mental state. On a routine fishing trip, the President and Secret Service detail are attacked, and only Trumball and Banning survive. Evidence points the blame at Banning for the assassination attempt. A fugitive on the run, Banning must fight his own agency to prove he was set up, while Vice President Kirby (Nelson) prepares a retaliatory war with Russia, accused of aiding Banning.
There isn’t an original sequence or sentence of dialogue in the entire movie
When a character remarks, “I miss it, the fighting, the adrenaline. We are lions,” and that person is played by Danny Huston, Ludendorff in “Wonder Woman,” Stryker in “X-Men Origins Wolverine,” AKA the stereotyped villain in nearly every movie you’ve ever seen him in, it’s pretty obvious what comes next. Yet, “Angel Has Fallen” still feels the need to have a "big reveal," where we learn who has set Banning up. His accomplice, also obvious, for those who know the actor playing that part. The script counts on the more passive movie watcher being unfamiliar with actors and genre tropes. “Angel Has Fallen” is not for the avid movie watcher, it’s for those who can suspend belief about the plausibility of what’s on-screen, the accuracy of how the government deals with an incapacitated president, or the fact there isn’t an original sequence or sentence of dialogue in the entire movie. Guns, car chases and explosions, that’s it.
The target audience certainly won’t be offended, or even notice, that this series of films continually cast women of color in authoritative roles, only to write them as unintelligent, bitchy, and then kill them off in a way that adds nothing to the plot. Freeman lies in a coma for most of the film, offering only bookending presidential moments. Nick Nolte is the comic relief as an explosive, hillbilly Santa. The amount of lunacy in this series is only matched by the predictability of the plot. Everything is obvious and plays out exactly like the previous iterations. In my 2016 review of “London Has Fallen,” I jokingly said the third film would be an attack on Camp David. While this script doesn’t specify President Trumball’s fishing location, the fact that a snarky joke from three years ago ended up being even half way true, shows the writing on the wall.
This trilogy has ‘Fallen’ and cannot get up.