First, it was Olympus that fell. Stakes skyrocketed when it was London’s time to fall. One would reasonably expect the next outing in the Fallen trilogy to “up the ante” even more – and it sure does. The entire world is now about to collapse, as war between the U.S. and Russia seems imminent. And the one man, the hero who has now saved the U.S. president twice from evil foreigners, has… well, fallen.
But not really. No one really expects the Terminator-like Mike Banning (played with the usual mix of detachment/arrogance by the ever-so-dislikeable Gerard Butler) to take a bullet – though, mind you, he would, for his nation, for Amurrica. The chest-thumping groundless patriotism, blatant xenophobia, dumb-as-nails dialogue and predictable plot that made the first two films so reprehensible are all still present – and yet, Angel Has Fallen ends up being the most guiltily enjoyable out of the three, almost despite itself.
“Mike has to escape from the law, prove his innocence, and beat the evil guys before they ignite the War to End All Wars.”
Plagued with PTSD headaches and facial tics, our hero Mike is nevertheless on the verge of getting promoted to Secret Service Director. Lo and behold – and I bet you didn’t see it coming – he gets framed for the attempted murder of longtime friend, President Alan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). With Trumbull stuck in a coma, Mike has to escape from the law, prove his innocence, and beat the evil guys before they ignite the War to End All Wars. The worst thing about all this? Mike has kept his migraine-like spasms secret from his wife Leah (Piper Perabo). Ouch, brah.
Testosterone-fueled and jingoistic to an unintentionally-laughable degree, the film also resembles dozens of “wrongfully accused” clones. That particular sub-genre of action flicks has even been spoofed two decades ago, albeit poorly, in the aptly-named Liam Nielsen-starrer Wrongfully Accused. The screenplay by Robert Mark Kamen, Matt Cook, and Ric Roman Waugh struggles to infuse the proceedings with some real-time relevance (evil Russian hackers, corrupt politicians), but ironically has the opposite effect, its archaic, one-dimensional notions of “good” and “evil” instantly rendering the film dated. Also, it has people saying stuff like, “You were the necessary evil, caught at the right place at the right time.”
“…it’s all uber-violent, in-your-face, completely lacking sophistication…”
If you’re an ardent action fan looking to get the heart racing – and your thick skin can withstand the assault of empty rhetoric – Angel Has Fallen has enough inspired, goofy moments to satiate your appetite. A drone attack, consisting of a flock of tiny bots spat out of a machine akin to tennis balls, tingles the nerves. Mike driving a giant truck through thick woods, as a slew of cop cars and helicopters chase him, is skillfully staged – as is the rooftop-set final showdown. Nick Nolte steals the show (though – or, rather, because – he doesn’t seem to be aware where he is) as Mike’s pyromaniac, off-the-grid dad Clay.
Yes, it’s all uber-violent, in-your-face, completely lacking sophistication – but I’ll be damned if it’s not entertaining. And doesn’t that arguably describe our great nation? No wonder this “saga” is making most of its money overseas. Folks in Europe must view it as a satire. I wonder what’s next on the list to fall. It better be the universe, or God Himself.
"…I’ll be damned if it’s not entertaining"