VOD film review: Angel Has Fallen
James R | On 24, Dec 2019
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Danny Huston
“Bourbon and poor choices” is how Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) once described himself in Olympus Has Fallen. Two films later and the secret service who’s as memorable as his generic name is back once again to save the American President by shooting lots of foreign people.
Except, this time, they’re not foreign – and that very slight tweak of the franchise’s formula is enough to give this threequel a fresh jolt of adrenaline. The first entry, a down-and-dirty White House invasion flick, got by on its decidedly grim approach to violence, but the second, which relocated to London, introduced an ugly xenophobic streak that left a bad taste in the mouth. Here, the series wisely retreats to safer blockbuster territory: Mike Banning is framed for a attack on the President that wipes out everyone except for him and POTUS (Morgan Freeman), and so he strives to prove his innocence and expose the real mole behind the conspiracy.
In an entirely unconnected opening scene, we’re introduced to Mike’s old friend, Wade Jennings (Danny Huston), who has been through his fair share of wars alongside Mike. To say he plays a role in the second half of the film is hardly a surprise, and Danny Huston gives good Danny Huston as the untrustworthy veteran with a chip on his shoulder, as intimidating when he flashes a steely smile as when he’s engaging in hand-to-hand combat.
The chance to see Danny Huston and Gerard Butler in action at the same time is worth tuning in for alone, especially when Nick Nolte joins the fray as Mike’s father, because of reasons. But Angel Has Fallen’s mistake is to think that bringing in these personal connections from Mike’s past adds depth to his character, when we’re really here to watch Butler’s tough guy face off against a helicopter or indulge in fisticuffs on a rooftop. Character consistency, in other words, isn’t the Fallen series’ strong point; even Mike’s wife, who presumably has a name, is quietly recast as Piper Perabo with the filmmakers no doubt hoping that nobody will notice.
Having ridded itself of the uncomfortably jingoistic brutality, Angel Has Fallen is instead undone by taking itself too seriously – the first movie’s gruff sense of humour went a long way. With some of the action sequences a little too chaotically presented to boot, the result is an explosive and energetic conclusion to an unlikely trilogy, one that succeeds in raising its own bar, if only slightly. Not a poor choice, then, but a bog-standard one. The bourbon may help.