Angel Has Fallen
If going through a checklist of action film clichés were a competitive sport, Angel Has Fallen would be the all-time world champion. The predictable plot, two-dimensional characters, and lust for guns are all tone-deaf overkill (pun intended).
The third Fallen film, behind the descension of Olympus and London, Angel refers to the “Guardian Angel” of the President. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is the Secret Serviceman closest to the current President (Morgan Freeman). When an incident while fishing leaves POTUS in a coma and all but one of the Servicemen on the trip dead, the lone survivor is assumed to be in on the plot. Banning is that survivor, and he must escape imprisonment by his coworker and go on the run to prove his innocence. If only the President would awaken from his coma to clear Mike’s name and find the real bad guys.
Sound like something you’d expect from a right-leaning action film? Just you wait. There are also daddy issues aplenty and being-too-old-for-this-shit-itis in Banning’s spine. As he weighs his love for the job against the prospect of having the perfect family life, Banning must also hide out with his survivalist father (Nick Nolte, easily the best part of the whole movie and in need of far more screen time) and learn to forgive him for not being around for the past few decades.
While Banning certainly strives to be a classic action hero in the making, he’s slightly underwhelming. He’s no Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt, and watching him triumph over the forces against him is proportionately diminished. This is not a master class in espionage or physical dexterity; it’s a pretty good officer do a pretty good job. He gets lucky more often than not, which makes it difficult to ever fully rally behind him.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a shoot-’em-up with explosions as much as the next cinephile. Unfortunately, Angel Has Fallen takes itself far too seriously to have any fun with the preposterous violence. Its blind patriotism and celebration of unchecked testosterone stops it from being something easy to embrace ironically. The trope of having good guys with an arsenal of guns now reads as tone deaf when there are no longer any real divisions between saviors and terrorists when they leave the same wake of death and destruction in their trails.
Ultimately, Angel Has Fallen will satisfy the audience that looks forward to these sorts of things. And by “these sorts of things,” I specifically mean uninspired, bland action films.