Angel Has Fallen is an action-packed 24-inspired third chapter of the franchise that still manages to keep things feeling somewhat fresh.
Angel Has Fallen is the third film in the “Fallen”, franchise following in the footsteps of Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen, this time directed by Ric Roman Waugh who bought us Dwayne Johnson’s Snitch in 2013. We have the returning cast of Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman, even if there is no sign of Aaron Eckhart, along with newcomers to the franchise, Jada Pinkett Smith, Danny Huston, and Nick Nolte.
Angel Has Fallen follows Mike Banning (Butler), who is now the Secret Service agent for President Allan Trumbull (Freeman), who got a promotion. When he comes under attack by a drone, Mike is framed for the assassination attempt, forcing him to go on the run to prove his innocence. Mike turns to the one person he can trust: his estranged father Clay Banning (Nolte), while the FBI agent Helen Thompson (Smith) hunts Mike down, and Wade Jennings (Huston), a private contractor, looks to cash in on this opportunity to prove his men could be an asset to America.
Angel Has Fallen takes the story in another new direction, like the previous outing, with the first being in the White House, the second being in a city, London, now we are going bigger with the film being set in America, with a nationwide manhunt for Mike in operation, and Mike looking to avoid detection. Everything around that side of the story does feel like an episode or two of 24. If you have been watching the franchise, there are some massive plot holes which will leave you scratching your head, for example: why does nobody believe Mike had nothing to do with the attack, after everything he has done for the President in the past? And why is there no mention of the previous President Benjamin Asher, who has a very close friendship with Mike? Yes, he could have served his time, but not referencing anything he did for him in the past seems strange. The story does keep everything in the same act formula as before, with the attack sequence, the aftermath, the meetings about what to do next, etc. We know how things will unfold; there isn’t much mystery about who is behind everything, either. The story does tackle one of the most interesting aspects of an action film: consequences, with Mike showing his injuries from the previous films, which have been affecting him. This isn’t like most action sequels that just shake off any injuries from the previous film. For an action story, this does give us everything we need and does keep it feeling fresher because of the different and larger scale of the events going on.
Angel Has Fallen has performances from Gerard Butler, proving to us once again that he could be an action star whenever we want him to, handling the fighting and the tough guy attitude while poking a little bit of fun at the idea of an aging action star too. Morgan Freeman has openly admitted he took this role for the money, and you can tell, but that doesn’t mean he is bad; he mostly doesn’t have much to do. Nick Nolte is the surprise package in this film for performance; while not quite at the level of his performance in Warrior, it is bringing a similar character to the screen, making him feel believable throughout. Danny Huston might suffer from typecasting, where he usually plays the villain, but he is damn good in the villainous role whenever it is required of him. Piper Perabo does take over from Radha Mitchell, which is barely noticeable because during the whole franchise the character has just been the concerned wife.
Angel Has Fallen brings the action once again, though we don’t get a massive attack like the previous two films have given us, with the attack being deadly to the people involved, but feeling tame for what the franchise has given us before. We can forgive this because what we get elsewhere in the film is military strategy combat, which is what we like to see Mike fighting in. With the quality of the action being strong, the fact that we do have a lot of green screen moments that quite frankly don’t look finished is one of the major downsides to the film, with one sequence almost looking laughable.
Angel Has Fallen is the second big action franchise that welcomed the trilogy chapter this year, following from the superior John Wick footsteps, we do get the story going in a different direction and an idea which does make everything feel bigger, only it does end up looking like a 24 movie with Mike playing the character of Jack Bauer.
Darren starting writing for films at Movies Reviews 101. He joined the Ready Steady Cut team in 2018 and is a proud member of the LAMB (Large Association of movie bloggers).