Gerard Butler Isn’t The Same Mike Banning From The Previous Films, But He Is Still The Only Hope To Save The President For The Third Time. While Becoming A Fugitive On The Run Trying To Clear His Name, A Scene Stealing Nick Nolte Is Along For The Ride & Reminds Us Why, He Was Once One Of Our Favorite Leading Men. I Appreciated The Fresh Approach To The Story & Really Enjoyed This One. If Gerard Butler Decided To Keep Making More Of These I Wouldn’t Mind It At All.
Gerard Butler’s action star roles, hasn’t reached the heights of some of Hollywood’s biggest action stars. While he has made some questionable choices: “Gamer”, “P.S. I Love You” And “The Bounty Hunter”, just to name a few. He has received his biggest success with “300” and “The Fallen Series”, consisting of 2013’s “Olympus Has Fallen” and 2016’s “London Has Fallen”.
Well Gerard is back to saving the president and the day again in the third installment, “Angel Has Fallen”. The first film “Olympus Has Fallen”, is the still the best of the trilogy. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (“The Equalizer”, “Training Day”), “Olympus Has Fallen” was basically a remake of “Die Hard”. As Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning turned into John McClane, down to the cocky attitude and complete with a merciless streak, when it came to dismantling bad guys. The same bravado remained in it’s sequel “London Has Fallen”, which was the same old song and dance as “Olympus Has Fallen” just with a more open world setting.
In “Angel Has Fallen” you could describe Mike best as McClane from “Die Hard with a Vengeance”, as he is showing some serious wear and tear. It really doesn’t take much for “Angel Has Fallen” to become the best installment in the franchise. The series has found its audience, and “Angel Has Fallen” isn’t a complete break from the “Fallen” formula, as they try to keep what fans of the series have come to love. Screenwriters Ric Roman Waugh, Robert Mark Kamen and Matt Cook pump some freshness in, giving us something more interesting going on within the movie, and for the first time, they treat Mike as a human being.
Mike (Gerard Butler) is getting older, and it’s showing as past acts of heroism have caught up with him, leaving him concussed. He’s prone to insomnia, headaches, blurry vision, and a bad back. He’s popping pills from sketchy doctors, every five minutes just to stay upright. This is where “Angel Has Fallen” scores some big points and Butler takes to the new direction of the character with enthusiasm, as he plays a real person for the first time in the series. Trying to support his wife, Leah (“Coyote Ugly’s” Piper Perabo takes over for Radha Mitchell), and their young daughter. Mike remains by the side of former Vice President And now Commander-in-Chief, President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) while supported by his new VP Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson).
President Trumbull is about to offer Banning, his top agent a job as head of the Secret Service. While on vacation, Trumbull is attacked by explosive drones, killing everyone except for the President and Mike, who wakes up in a hospital, under arrest for an assassination attempt. Confused, Mike realizes he’s being framed, and in true movie-fugitive fashion, he soon escapes custody and sets out to clear his name.
Offering connections are Mike’s military pal, Wade (Danny Huston), and his father, Clay (Nick Nolte), who abandoned his son as a child. With Vice President Kirby now assuming power in the Oval Office, he is ready to declare war on Russia and Mike has limited time to find the real culprits and save Trumbull, who remains in a coma, protected in a hospital.
“Angel Has Fallen” is the exact kind of movie where you can spot the bad guys a mile away by the mere presence of actors like, the appearance of actress Anjelica Houston’s brother, Danny Huston who does his best James Bond villain impersonation. As Mike is on the run, he turns to his wacko survivalist father played by a completely scene stealing Nick Nolte. The moment Nolte shows up, it goes off the grid crazy in the best way possible. Nolte is a total nut and his presence lightens up the tone considerably, especially when you see the joy he has in taking out a squad of mercenaries who carelessly step into his fiery killzone. Nolte’s performance reminds us why he was once, one of our favorite leading men.
Behind the camera is director Ric Roman Waugh, a former stunt performer, who brings some raw energy to “Angel Has Fallen.” While he’s not the best at establishing camerawork during the fight scenes, instead being a bit too chaotic at times and the man loves pyro, as he delivers huge explosions throughout the film. Waugh has made some crime movies such as “Felon” and “Snitch. He isn’t the flashiest filmmaker but he’s a sight better than the last guy and knows how to put together action sequences that are exciting and make sense. The action sequences are taut, tense, thrilling and loaded with some serious excitement.
Waugh needs to improve on his lighting choices that seem to be masquerading as stylistic decisions, to maybe cover up some poor choreography. Still there are instances when it works, as in a moody car chase through a dark and woody terrain involving Banning’s hijacking of a semi-truck is refreshingly choreographed and realistic.
At this point, you have to know what you’re in for. “Angel Has Fallen” finally gets the mix of vulnerability and brutality right for what may be Gerard’s final shot at saving the day. I’ll tell you that if Gerard Butler decides to keep making these films, then I’ll keep going. It’s a worthy successor to the original and one of the best, as far as threequels go.
GRADE: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)