Angel Has Fallen review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
The third in the Fallen or Angel saga comes grinding to a halt with the same bland staging and tired action as that of the Taken franchise. The colors are drabby and washed out. The action is clunky and poorly shot in a manner of manic cutting and uninspired choreography. The very premise even shares similarities with Taken 3, the way the lead character has been thrust out of being the protector and is now on the run trying to clear his name. If body switching were the shark-jumping of television series, being on the lam should be issued in as the sign that an action saga is past its prime, if it isn’t already a standard.
There’s very little reveal about this tale that I haven’t already divulged in that opening paragraph. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is once more established as the tough-as-nails bodyguard to the President of the United States (Morgan Freeman), ready to defend him at any time. But Banning is getting too old for this kind of crap. He has insomnia and migraines which isn’t too surprising considering he watched the White House and London turn into battlefields and survive both. And he has back pain, too! He really is too old for this staggering franchise that is on its last broken legs.
To put a little spring in this franchise’s misaligned steps, a fishing trip turns into a drone strike where Banning is labeled as a culprit. Now he has to go on a chase for the truth to clear his name and it’s just as explosive and routine as it sounds. Banning runs through a hospital trying to stop bad guys. Banning gets into a car chase. Banning calls his wife to say he loves her. And so on and so on. All could be forgiven and exciting if any of this was given some slight bit of style and staging to separate this production from the multitude of excessive vanilla action pictures of dull hero guy goes around killing hitmen and government agents. I’ve seen this so many times repeated in a dozens upon dozens of direct-to-video shlock that Angel Has Fallen slips so far down from being Die Hard at the White House it slides into that bargain bin of garbage action pictures.
Even the film’s most interesting aspect of revealing Banning’s dad to be played by Nick Nolte offers no comfort. In fact, he adds to the tired and groggy nature of this production because, well, this is Nolte we’re talking about. His stumbling of words is soon replaced by explosions right outside his house. This would be absurd if it weren’t for the fact that these Fallen films are already tap-dancing on so much absurdity that Nolte’s estate of explosive vehicles is not just par for the course, it’s a tired scene. You can practically hear the yawn as the explosions are set off and the clunky action resumes.
While the film isn’t as stumbling with Islamaphobia as London Has Fallen, it still makes the bad call of trying to have some fun with current politics. There’s an allusion to how the Russians may be involved in this act of terrorism which would make sense considering the previous pictures targeted Koreans and Middle Easterns as foes. Nope. This is written off as literally being labeled fake news. Ha ha. It’s funny because the film provided commentary that was both pathetic and propagandic.
There’s no point to Angel Has Fallen considering how distant it wants to be from anything substancial and let all its lazy action do the talking. I’m starting to regret having fun with Olympus Has Fallen as sort of ridiculous blender of Red Dawn meets Die Hard. I laughed at that film for its absurdity but now the joke is over and any fun that may have been left in this saga is replaced with muddled messages and dry action. Let this be the fall of the Angel or Fallen saga. Or the Banning trilogy. Or whatever.