Released: 23rd August
Seen: 30th August
The ‘Fallen’ film series is one of the strangest film series that I’ve seen lately because it’s a series that somehow keeps making money and keeps getting sequels and yet I have never heard a single person talk about the original two. Be honest, do you even remember that Olympus Has Fallen happened? Because the only interesting thing about that movie was that it came out in the same year as White House Down and they both shared the idea of terrorists attacking the White House to get to the president and a random secret service guy steps up to stop them. The first movie in the Fallen series was… OK? I mean, it had an interesting location and some good explosions but other than that nothing was interesting about it. Then the sequel… well, let’s just say they replaced the interesting location with racism and that was it. So what about this film? Did they do anything different or interesting to make this series finally be interesting or memorable?
Angel Has Fallen follows the somehow still alive Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerald Butler) on another day where he’s protecting President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). Of course, because Mike Banning and the presidents who he protects have been cursed by a coven of apolitical witches, suddenly there is an incredibly elaborate attempt to assassinate the president using drones and explosions. Of course, because it’s what he does, Mike manages to keep the President safe from the assassination attempt while dozens of other agents around them die without anyone giving a damn because they are just bodies to be disposed of. With Mike and the President in hospital, both in comas, the Secret Service believes that Mike set this up even though he has been nothing but loyal and their evidence is so threadbare that it’s comical. Mike wakes up from his coma, gets taken off to jail and on the way he breaks free to find the real assassins. Oh, and at some point, he ends up running to his dad for help but that’s completely irrelevant.
On a technical level, the plot of this film is slightly different from the first two films. They actually do try and diverge a little from the “2 hours of attempting to kill the President with bombs” plot from the first two movies, but they only diverge from it in the middle section, pulling Mike away from the President by framing him… only for them to basically reach the same conclusion they would’ve done if Mike never left the hospital to begin with. There’s an entire plotline about Mike’s father but if you pulled it out, nothing would change. It’s not like Mike’s father, Clay Banning (Nick Nolte) does anything interesting other than blow some people up at one point (because the only thing this film knows how to do is make things explode), Clay is basically there because they wanted to hire Nick Nolte and that was their best option.
There are so many sub-plots in this film that just don’t go anywhere. There’s an entire stupid plot that goes along with the Vice President taking over when the real president is in a coma and potentially starting a war with Russia. It’s a very stupidly explained plot that goes nowhere and is dealt with so quickly that you’d think it wasn’t a major act of treason. Then there’s just the stupidity of the main plot with everyone instantly believing Mike Banning, who has already averted two assassination attempts, would suddenly turn evil for no reason. Everyone takes a fistful of stupid pills and that’s meant to be OK for the audience.
On the subject of Russia, the only bit of current political news in the entire film is the idea that Russia hacked the election… and that led to the election of the former Vice President? The film never really wants to take a chance and actually say something about the current political climate that we’re in. It would certainly be ballsy to maybe turn the president into a Trump analogue and discuss heavy ideas, they could actually do something interesting with this concept that lends itself well to making political arguments… or they could just be boring and basic and not do anything interesting with this scenario they’ve been gifted, either option works.
You can also really tell that this film had a smaller budget because God damn do the effects look bad. I’m not talking about explosions, it’s difficult to mess up “Make things go boom”, no I’m talking about shots where they digitally inserted people or vehicles and the blending is just incredibly bad. There was one shot right near the end during the dramatic “We got to keep this person away from the bad people” scene where I laughed out loud at just how bad the effect looked, which I shouldn’t be doing for the third movie in a pretty major franchise.
The truth is, Angel Has Fallen offers nothing new to make it worth watching. I’ve sat through a lot of movies where the sequels tend to be iterations on the original film. For example, every Friday the 13th film basically follows the same plot with the same location and even the same villain, but they still offered something different each time. Maybe a slightly different tone, different main characters, a different final girl or different kills. Angel Has Fallen offers none of that, it’s the same as the first two movies without the interesting location from the first movie and without the racism from the second movie. Once you remove those, you just get a generic film where things explode. You don’t even get any memorable one-liners or any particularly cheesy set pieces; it’s just bland and flavourless.