Angel Has Fallen

Aida Vucic | 28/08/2019

The Fallen franchise is on a clear downward trajectory with its latest instalment. 


Gerard Butler returns as Mike Banning, an elite secret service agent who’s not only older but whose prior heroics seem to be catching up with him, as his body is seemingly failing him and he’s become somewhat drug dependant. Whilst on a fishing trip with now President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), a swarm of drones descend upon all the secret service agents and the President; everyone bar Banning. Despite having successfully rescued the president from terrorist attacks in the earlier instalments, Mike now finds himself accused of masterminding the attack and is arrested.


Banning quickly escapes, after assailants ambush the vehicle he is detained in and he’s forced to go on the run and prove his innocence. While the President narrowly managed to survive the attack, he remains comatose. Banning finds refuge at his estranged father’s (Nick Nolte) cabin where the pair unleash explosive power.


Probably the only redeeming aspect of the film is that it doesn’t attempt to conceal the villain with insulting storylines created to mask the identity of the villain. It’s perfectly transparent and avoids convoluting the story to point of no return. Though the majority of the interactions come across as contrived, the dynamic between Banning and his father is humorous and enjoyable to watch, injecting that lowball humour these films are known for.


This is Butler’s third stint as Banning and, much like this iteration of the character, he seems to have lost much of the enthusiasm of the earlier films, instead barely staggering through most of the action scenes. Butler has unapologetically typecast himself in this role as the all-American action hero with a Scottish twang, which is a shame given his rough around the edges demeanour made him the unlikely love interest in some of his earlier films. Similarly, Freeman has been cast in yet another role as President and plays it as sincerely as always, but his performance adds little to the film.


In the end, while some of the later action is reminiscent of Butler’s glory days in this role, for the most part this film wildly misses the mark about what made Olympus Has Fallen such a treat. The humour, fun and energy just isn’t there. Partly that’s down to the performances, but moreso down to the story and direction. The oppressive air of a man unable to move without running into danger just isn’t there when the story is expanded, and when he is just protecting himself Banner seems less heroic. A better director, a better story or a better script might have saved this, but even then it’s unlikely that we really needed a third outing from Butler’s unapologetic action hero. 


Oh, and make sure you hang around for the credits to watch the most tonally misjudged mid-credits scene in recent memory!


It’s safe to say that Banning has likely gone into permanent retirement; and we must say we’re slightly relieved.