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Review: 'Angel Has Fallen' is a familiar story

Posted Monday, November 25, 2019 at 11:58 AM Central
Last updated Monday, November 25, 2019 at 11:59 AM Central

by John Couture

I must admit that I was a late-comer to the "Has Fallen" franchise, having fallen ano pun intended) on Olympus Has Fallen many times before finally finishing it. Once I did, I found that I actually enjoyed the hyper-violence of Secret Service agent Mike Banning.

After finally making it through the first film, I quickly sought out London Has Fallen and enjoyed that installment very much. Of course, the heightened expectations combined with having to wait for the next movie for the first time surely set Angel Has Fallen up for failure.

Either that or it's just not that good of a movie. I'm still not sure. What I do know is that this film is tracking very highly with fans of the franchise and the producers are working with Lionsgate to ready not one, not two, but three more films in the action franchise. Ready or not, prepare yourself for more Mike Banning.

In Angel Has Fallen, Morgan Freeman's Allan Trumbull has ascended to the Presidency and Banning is in charge of his Secret Service detail with a new offer from Trumbull to become the agency's director. Banning thwarts an assassination attempt on the President, but he's quickly implicated in the crime and taken into custody. Now, Banning must flee and find evidence that will exonerate him before the actors at play make good on their threat to kill the U.S. President.

There are several moments that I enjoyed in Angel Has Fallen, but those were the ones that sort of pushed back at this whole obvious script that has seemingly plagued action franchises where there needs to be a whole entry dedicated to trying to frame the good guy for a heinous crime. It's a movie trope in these franchises and I'm sure it won't be going away any time soon given that audiences eat it up with a spoon and a side of shell casings.

The issue that I have with its placement in this series of films is just how quick the FBI is to assume that Banning is behind the assassination attempt. I mean this is a decorated member of the secret service who has risked his own life many times for the office, but suddenly now he's the bad guy?

As much as I like to suspend disbelief, this was just a step too far for me. I mean I get the fact that a particular mole helped to propel this fallacy, but I just don't understand the swiftness of action that really propelled the whole movie, all while Trumbull is still in a coma.

That being said, I really did enjoy several moments. I loved the scenes with Nick Nolte. Between this film and his work in The Mandalorian, he is quickly earning a comeback of the year nod from me at my make-believe awards show. His role as Banning's father was a breath of fresh air for the film and I really do hope that the filmmakers find a way to incorporate his character into future stories.

I also found that casting Piper Perabo as Banning's wife was inspired. While again, she doesn't have as many scenes as I would like, her experience is wonderful and she's able to provide a certain amount of gravitas in those scenes where bullets aren't whizzing by that truly gives the movie its few moments of heartfelt compassion. Her performance makes Banning's indecision about his future that much more palpable and believable.

Again, while the whole kidnap your family for compliance trope is cliché in these type of movies, I wouldn't be against seeing her take on an expanded role in the next film. And ultimately, that is where this franchise is going. No matter what I, or any other critic, might say about Angel Has Fallen, we are going to get more Mike Banning adventures.

I'm not against it per se, but I would hope that the writers take a look back at this film and the success of the first two and get the script right before they rush into "Has Fallen 4." Gerard Butler is a compelling action star who is just hitting his stride as he turns 50, especially given the success of this very odd and specific geriatric action hero niche.

As it stands, Angel Has Fallen is a flawed film that will certainly make you think of a dozen other better films with the same story elements, but there are enough redeeming elements to hope for better in the future.

Angel Has Fallen is now available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD.