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Movie Review: “Angel Has Fallen”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 8/23/2019

Theatrical Release: 8/23/2019

Synopsis

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 he has endured an incredible amount of physical trauma while trying to save the President. All the trauma has taken a permanent toll on Mike’s body, and doctors have advised him to stop whatever he has been doing, or he could be facing serious physical disability. However, if the President of the United States is in danger, Mike cannot exactly take it easy.

Danger unfortunately comes for President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) once again. 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. Whoever actually tried to kill the president is still out there, and they will surely try to finish the job. He needs to clear his name, but he cannot sit idly by with an imminent attack on the President's life, and trying to save the President as a wanted man will be Mike's toughest challenge yet.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Action (+5pts)

Agent Thompson & The FBI (-3pts)

The Setup (+4pts)

The Plot Twists (-2pts)

Mike Banning (+6pts)

Director (-2pts)

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Pro: The Action (+5pts)

If you have seen either or both of the last two movies, then it would not be surprising to learn that there was plenty of action in this one. The action was frequent, the action was explosive, and the action kept me on the edge of my seat. In a movie with so much action, it understandable to be concerned that the action might start feeling stale, as the audience could become 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 did.

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 never felt stale, as every sequence was different than the last. The filmmakers of this movie also provided varying stakes to each action sequence. Whether it was 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 in each action sequence. It was not just protect the President, protect the President, and protect the President. Each action sequence had its own purpose, which helped set them apart from each other and keep things interesting.

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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 they 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. He 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 in 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 with the character was refreshingly realistic, which made it a pleasant surprise. It was unexpected, but it was an example of filmmakers who did not want to sacrifice an important character’s intelligence, and I appreciated that.

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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 throughout 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 it would not be necessary. Fortunately, the second scenario was what happened.

The filmmakers did a great job at making this movie in a way that it could absolutely stand on its own. Basically, the only things you need to know from the last movies were that Mike had put his body through hell while protecting the President, and that the President respected him for it. Those were the only things you need to know from the last movies, and the filmmakers did a good job at setting those things up within this story. They did so quickly toward the beginning of the movie, and they did so in a way that felt natural, so will not feel like lazy exposition and it will not feel redundant to anyone who has seen both of the previous movies.

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Con: The Plot Twists (-2pts)

I will keep this rather vague, because these were supposed to be plot twists, so I 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, there was a shroud of mystery around the identity of the antagonists the whole time. People who have seen enough movies will know that when there is an antagonist whose identity is unknown and the other characters make a big deal about finding out who it is, it is safe to assume the antagonist is someone you have seen before. They also had to be notable enough characters that the filmmakers would think revealing them as antagonists would shock the audience. Unfortunately, both reveals in this movie were incredibly predictable, which made them underwhelming when they finally happened.

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Pro: Mike Banning (+6pts)

I liked what the filmmakers did with this character in this movie. They gave him 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 set quite the obstacle before him, and it 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 in a compelling way.

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, but this time he had to do it while being the most wanted man in the country. This pulled the rug out from under the main character, and it 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 shake things up a bit, while also delivering a movie that fit into this franchise. The filmmakers definitely succeeded at doing this, in my opinion. I also enjoyed Nick Nolte’s role in the movie, as his character’s relationship with Mike Banning was an interesting one to see play out on screen.

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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 had been beaten and battered, and he faced serious permanent injury if he continued doing what he had been doing. Naturally, he was contemplating resigning as a member of the secret service. However, Mike Banning was also contemplating whether or not he should accept the role of Director of the secret service, if the President offered it to him. This role would see him directing the secret service rather than be in the action himself, but he still would have an active role in protecting the President. It just seemed like the answer to his problem, so I really did not understand his hesitation potentially taking on the role of Director, if it was offered to him.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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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 made the action feel fresh and interesting, rather than stale and redundant. 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 for most of the movie's runtime. Nonetheless, 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 them well. He struggled with the physical toll the events of the last two movies took on him, and he struggled with how that could impact his life and his job going forward. 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 assassination attempt, and he had to do that while also being the most wanted man in the country. I enjoyed this movie and it added interesting new elements Mike's story. This 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. Many action franchises can start to fizzle out by the third movie—if they even make it to three movies—but I thought this movie was even better than the first.

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