This was a fun action movie that resonates with the genre. However, with an aging main actor and limited budget, it comes off much weaker than the previous two installments in the franchise. The 2019 film, directed by Ric Roman Waugh, is missing a lot of the action and thrills that makes the Fallen movies so much fun. The story revolves around an aging main character who might not be up to the job of protecting the president anymore and it painfully shows. I enjoyed the overall story, with the framed decorated soldier, and still loved the cast. But the expectations set from Olympus and London, left me disappointed. That being said, it still is one of the better action movies of the summer.
The franchise itself, starting with Olympus Has Fallen, came out with a rocky start. It is easy to get confused which movie it was due to White house Down, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, coming out around the same time. But the second film, London Has Fallen, solidified Gerard Butler’s character as an iconic action movie figure. Being a fan of the genre, I was very excited to see another installment of CIA agent Mike Banning brutally kill some more terrorists in ways that make the audience wince. However this time around Mike wasn’t his usual self. The story this time around was about a character who is older, slower, and in pain. While I appreciate the attempt to bring depth to the character, it came off as if blaming the audience for loving all that action scenes that have broken this man. There were some amazing action scenes in this movie, but you could tell that wasn’t the main focus of the, instead it was a more grounded story that wanted the audience to feel for the characters.
I will say, although I mainly watch the Fallen films for their action, I still want to see a good story. The two previous movies had a very paper thin bad guy reminiscent of the 80/90’s action movie: a foreign bad guys who hates freedom tries to kill a bunch of innocent people. Angel Has Fallen took that usual story trope and used it against the audience. This time the enemies are internal. The audience catches on to this very fast however what I appreciated was the way the media is used. The news is fed lies about Russian involvement on an assassination attempt on the president. With the parallels in modern day being obvious, the writers had balls to bring that up. Who would really expect a story telling the audience “stop blaming Russia for your problems and look at your own government for the wrongs that are happening to you” from a movie in this current political climate. And speaking of political motives of characters, I really didn’t expect them to play the crazy Vietnam veteran card.
Another story element they used to to give Mike Banning depth, was the introduction of his father, Clay Banning, played by Nick Nolte. Clay’s character was easily the best part of the movie. He is a crazy old man with guns and explosives living off the grid with a fond hatred for big brother. And when some military punks come knocking at the front door, he sends them to hell, laughs while he does it. Nick Nolte may not be the actor he once was, but he was perfectly cast for this role. The rest of the cast did an alright job as well. Morgan Freeman returns, this time as the president in danger instead of the VP. Jana Pinkett Smith joins as the FBI agent hunting down Mike after he is framed. Her side story had a very shocking twist and I liked the perspective her character brings to the story. The villain is played by Danny Huston who has always played a great bad guy in any movie he is in. There is another villain hinted at but I will let the audience find out that reveal for themselves, but I doubt it will be a hard one to catch. All and all the cast and story were the best in the franchise, so it hurts even more that the action wasn’t.
My favorite moment in the Fallen franchise is a scene in London. Mike stabs a man through his own hand and into his back. The terrorist is on the phone with his own brother and Mike tortures him before killing him so the brother can hear it. The president asks “Was that necessary?” to which Mike responds “No” and walks away. There was nothing in Angel Has Fallen that meets that element of savagery. I would put this franchise up there with John Wick for one of best modern day action movies, but unlike John Wick, the third Fallen film isn’t the best, it is the worst. This is why it does not survive The Snappening, unlike Nick Nolte’s character which totally survives. My hope is that a forth movie comes out that brings Mike Banning back to a level of badassery the fans are used to.
Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith