Movie Review: “Angel Has Fallen”
Angel Has Fallen
Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) has not exactly taken care of his body over the years. During his time in the secret service, he has been battered, bruised, and has endured an incredible amount of physical trauma while trying to save the president. All the trauma has left a permanent toll on Mike’s body, and doctors have advised him to stop whatever he has been doing, otherwise he could be facing serious physical disability. However, if the President of the United States is in danger, Mike cannot exactly “take it easy.”
Unfortunately, danger does come for President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). After a tragic drone strike, the president is in a coma, and the rest of his secret service detail has been killed. Mike is the only survivor, which raises suspicion from the FBI. Mike quickly learns that he has been framed for the attempt on the president’s life. On the run from the law, Mike is desperate to clear his name. However, whoever did try to kill the president is still out there, and they will surely try to finish the job. He needs to clear his name, but cannot sit idly by with an imminent second attempt on the president’s life. Unfortunately, protecting the president as a wanted man is no easy task.
The Pros & Cons
The Action (+5pts)
Agent Thompson & The FBI (-3pts)
The Setup (+4pts)
The Plot Twists (-2pts)
Mike Banning (+6pts)
Pro: The Action (+5pts)
If you have seen either or both of the last two movies, then you know there will plenty of action in this one. The action was frequent, the action was explosive, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. In a movie with so much action, it is hard to prevent the action from feeling stale or from making the audience desensitized to it all. The filmmakers of this movie got around this in the same way that the filmmakers of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum got around this (this is just a comparison, it is not like the filmmakers of the John Wick franchise were the first to do this).
Each action sequence seemed to have a different gimmick, of sorts. There was the drone sequence, the 18-wheeler sequence, the cabin sequence, and more. With each sequence having a unique location, or stipulation, it made it so that the action to never felt stale. Unlike with the latest John Wick movie, the filmmakers of this movie also provided varying stakes to each action sequence. Whether it be trying to protect the president, trying not to get caught, trying to survive, or trying to catch the antagonist, the filmmakers did a great job of varying what the protagonist was trying to accomplish. This contributed to keeping me on the edge of my seat while providing fresh, entertaining action.
Con: Agent Thompson & The FBI (-3pts)
I get that the filmmakers wanted the main character to be framed. That being said, I thought that Agent Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) and the FBI were too quick to jump on Mike Banning as the man behind the assassination attempt. They were too quick to rule out the possibility that he was being framed, and were too harsh toward Mike Banning throughout the process. If Mike were some random guy at the scene of the assassination attempt, I would get it, but that was not the case.
Mike Banning was a trusted member of the President’s secret service, and has gone through hell while putting his life on the line to save the President, and he has done this on two separate occasions. Given that, and given that the FBI knew this, it seemed unrealistic that they would fall for the frame job so easily. On an unrelated note, I liked the direction that the filmmakers went with Agent Thompson toward the end of the movie. It was not anything that the character did, but the direction that the filmmakers went in was refreshingly realistic, which made it a pleasant surprise. It was unexpected, but showed that the filmmakers did not want to sacrifice an important character’s intelligence.
Pro: The Setup (+4pts)
I saw Olympus Has Fallen, but I did not see London Has Fallen, so I was a little nervous going into this movie. I knew there were two possible scenarios for me. The first was that the filmmakers would assume I saw both of the previous movies, in which case there would be key plot points that I would not get and I would be lost during this movie. The second scenario was that the filmmakers would keep the story of this movie entirely contained within this movie, and that seeing the last two movies would add additional context to this story, but would really be optional.
Fortunately, the second scenario was the correct one. The filmmakers did a great job of making this movie in a way that it can absolutely stand on its own. Basically, the only things you need to know from the last movies is that Mike has been through some physical trauma while protecting the President, and that the President respects him for it. Those are the only things you need to know, and the filmmakers did a good job at setting up those things. They did so quickly toward the beginning of this movie, and they did so in a way that felt natural (so will not feel redundant to anyone who has seen both of the previous movies).
Con: The Plot Twists (-2pts)
I will keep this rather vague, because these were supposed to be plot twists, so I definitely do not want to give them away. That being said, anyone who has seen their share of movies will see these plot twists coming from a mile away. There were two characters in this movie that ended up being antagonists. The reveals (revealing that they were antagonists) were clearly supposed to surprise the audience. However, the antagonists had a veil of secrecy around them (being familiar with movies, and storytelling in general, will tell you that the antagonists are characters you have seen before). They also had to be notable characters, notable enough that the filmmakers thought revealing them as antagonists would shock the audience. There were really only two options, so the antagonist’s identities were incredibly obvious.
Pro: Mike Banning (+6pts)
I liked what the filmmakers did with this character in this movie. They gave the character some internal conflict, by setting up the long-term effects of his previous heroic battles, as well as what would happen should he continue. This gave him some internal conflict, that added new layers to the character. On top of that, Gerard Butler did a decent job of bringing the character’s inner struggle to the screen.
I also enjoyed the challenge that Mike Banning needed to face. He needed to save the President, just like he needed to do in the previous movies. The added stipulation was that he needed to do this while being the most wanted man in the country. This metaphorically pulled the rug out from under the main character, and gave this movie something that the other two movies did not have. With this being the third movie in the franchise, the filmmakers needed to deliver something new and exciting, while also delivering a movie that fits into this franchise. The filmmakers definitely succeeded at doing this, in my opinion. As a bonus (to this section of the review as well as my enjoyment of the character Mike Banning), I also enjoyed Nick Nolte’s role in the movie, as well as his character’s relationship with Mike Banning.
Con: Director (-2pts)
Maybe I just completely missed something, but this was a part of the movie that I did not understand. Mike Banning’s body has been beaten and battered, and he faces serious permanent injuries if he continues doing what he has been doing. Naturally, he is contemplating resigning as a member of the secret service. This part I get. However, Mike Banning was also contemplating whether or not he should accept the role of Director of the secret service, if the President offers it to him. This role would see him directing the secret service rather than be in the action himself so seems like the answer to his problem. Maybe I missed something, but these two debates seemed to be conflicting with one another, so I really did not understand his hesitation with taking the role as Director, if it is offered to him.
Grade: B- (83pts)
Angel Has Fallen delivered the action that you would expect if you have seen either or both of the last two movies, but it did so in a way that never made the action feel stale. With a unique stipulation, of sorts, in each sequence, and varying stakes, the action always felt fresh and exciting. There was plenty of action, and it was always explosive, which kept me on the edge of my seat and shoveling popcorn into my mouth. Fortunately, there was more to the movie than just the action.
The plot twists were head-smackingly predictable, and the FBI’s involvement could have been handled better, but I liked what the filmmakers did with the main character. Mike Banning was given some new layers in this movie, and Gerard Butler handled it well. He had to struggle with still feeling the effects of the damage he endured in the last two movies, and struggled with how that could impact his life and his job. Protecting his body could mean not being able to protect the President, and protecting the President could mean causing permanent physical disability for himself. Mike Banning had to deal with this while trying to protect the President from an imminent attempt on his life, while also being the most wanted man in the country. I enjoyed this movie and thought the filmmakers did a really good job of adding interesting new elements to set this movie apart from the previous two, while also delivering the intense and explosive action that we have come to expect from this franchise.