Film Reviews

REVIEW: Angel Has Fallen (2019)

This 2019 American action thriller film is directed by Ric Roman Waugh as the third instalment in the ‘Fallen’ series, following ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ (2013) and ‘London Has Fallen’ (2016). It stars Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Danny Huston, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Piper Perabo, Tim Blake Nelson and Nick Nolte.

Following a long, violent and exhausting career as a US Secret Service agent, Mike Banning (Butler) is suffering the consequences. Insomnia, concussion and blackouts to name a few. However, he still takes his duty of protecting US President Allan Trumbull (Freeman) over his well-being.

When an assassination attempt on the President fails, leaving him in a coma, Banning is framed for the hit which also left a high body count. FBI Agent Helen Thompson (Smith) is soon out to get him.

But Banning knows he has been set up – and he knows by whom. The only question is can he stay alive long enough to prove how and keep the President alive by forging an alliance with the only person he can trust…his estranged father Clay (Nolte)?

Actor and stuntman Ric Roman Waugh takes the helm of this third outing in the ‘Fallen’ series, and it’s clear to see that Waugh knows how to push action to the limit from the start. This is no tongue-in-cheek follow on the likes of Olympus or London had been. No. Angel Has Fallen is darker, more dangerous and packed with enough explosions to give Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money.

The series has gained a somewhat “impossible to hate” status however much you may want to roll your eyes at the larger than life outings of Secret Service agent Mike Banning. The series doesn’t hold back on giving us popcorn munching entertainment at its finest – loud action, violent confrontations, sneering villains, harsh one-liners and a rather top-notch cast. And this has rested on the shoulders of one man. Gerard Butler.

 

Gerard Butler as Mike Banning in Angel Has Fallen (2019) – Photo by Simon Varsano

 

Butler knows his market, and he hits a stride here as returning as Banning. For the first time in a long time in a third outing, we see the damage taken as an action hero and the results of preventing Olympus and London from falling. Much of the film is based on the effects of a career forged out of risking life and limb, and be it experiencing moments of concussion or tinnitus, this is a man on the edge but still powers on. Butler excels in a role he was born to play and is more humane and lethal than ever. While he may not be the actor out to win awards from the Academy, our Scottish Schwarzenegger is out to entertain, and he does so here in that inimitable fragile, macho and rough-around-the-edges way.

Backed by a top cast including Morgan Freeman, Danny Huston, Lance Reddick (riding the ‘John Wick’ fame train) and Piper Perabo, all our leads here deliver fine performances. However, the stand-out turn goes to Nick Nolte, poking fun at his own personal scandals in one breath before channelling an even more vengeful and pissed off Jack Cates style badass from 1982s ’48hrs’. It’s a joy to see him on fine form and having a blast – literally – with Butler.

As far as their stories go, you will see the villains a mile away and connect the dots in the first 20 minutes or so. But with these sort of films, it’s not about what you see, but how it’s seen. Waugh doesn’t try to re-write the genre, he just wants to deliver a faithful interpretation of it. It’s a very real President Trump influenced world our characters live and die in, touching on US / Russia relationships and keeping America great at all costs. Only this time, our heroes are out to turn it around the best way they can. And to be honest, who better to challenge President Trump than President Morgan Freeman?

From a Terminator-esque 18 wheeler rig v police car / helicopter chase through a dark wood, to a First Blood-esque sabotage in a forest, to a Die Hard-esque shoot-out in a claustrophobic building, the moment the first explosion blasts onto the screen until the last, this is one of the best and most enjoyable action films to come out in 2019. The violence is grizzly, the battles are brutal and Banning wouldn’t have it any other way. The music is bold and brash from David Buckley, and while not a fan of the choppy, shaky-cam work, cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin knows how to frame a good action sequence.

Angel Has Fallen is a cross between In The Line Of Fire and Rambo. It ends the summer blockbuster season with a bang and sticks two fingers up at convention and class. It does not disappoint and presents some of the most barnstorming action set-pieces in recent memory.

I personally can’t wait to see what falls next for Butler to return.

 

My Rating

 

 

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