REVIEW: ‘Fallen’ series rises back up with third installment

Alright, listen up. This movie features a fugitive. What this piece will entail is a hard target review of every character, plot detail, and the set design of every White House, hen house, out house and dog house on screen.

“Angel Has Fallen” once again features U.S. Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), who now protects President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). In the previous movies, Trumbull was House Speaker while the president was Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). But now, Trumbull is running the country and he’s under the protection of a super agent.

It’s an action movie, though, so of course something has to go wrong. In this case, a massive attack with dozens of drones rigged to blow are set loose on the President and his security detail while on a trip away from D.C. In the aftermath of the attack, the only survivors are Trumbull and Banning, making the latter the prime suspect. Banning, being innocent, quickly sees he’s being set-up and goes on a journey to clear his name and protect the president from the next attack.

I found “Olympus Has Fallen” to be a genuinely good, entertaining action flick with some solid characters to root for. Then “London Has Fallen” happened. Oof. After that debacle, it was hard to have any excitement for the completion of this trilogy.

However, “Angel Has Fallen” turned out to be a pleasant surprise. As my lede referencing “The Fugitive” implies, “Angel is a man-on-the-run flick and it keeps things pretty suspenseful from start to finish. While the movie certainly could use some trimming, coming in just a minute over two hours, there’s no doubt its action and Banning’s constant need to look over his shoulder can put someone on the edge of their seat.

That’s not to say “Angel” is a particularly deep movie with a lot going on. It’s easy to see from the first act exactly who the villains will be. Plus so many people believing that Banning, who saved the continental United States from nuclear devastation and rescued London from a massive terrorist attack, would then turn out to be a bad guy was hard to believe.

The roller coaster thrill-ride nature of the flick works so well, though, it’s hard to get hung up on stuff like that. Like in the original, Banning is a likable character and seeing him have to go on the run can keep a person engaged. It also helps when he runs into his father, played here by Nick Nolte, as the two have a fun dynamic.

This is largely portrayed in an action sequence where Nolte’s character sets off some explosives in an effort to defend his son.

Another fun action sequence takes place on the road, with Banning trying to outrun several police officers in a semi-truck in Appalachia country. That scene and several others throughout the picture are fast paced and offer some good entertainment value.

Courtesy LionsGate and Millennium Media.

Yet, it’s not all great on that front. “Angel Has Fallen” unfortunately features several action scenes where the camera is either shaky or moving, or where it’s zoomed in too close to see what’s really going on. “Angel” isn’t alone here, as many action movies have done this in the past many years, but it’s quite noticeable here and is one of the movie’s bigger detriments.

Acting-wise, “Angel” is pretty standard for an action piece. Butler has always done fairly well with this genre. He certainly has screen presence and is able to balance being an all around good-natured guy while still being a bad-ass when the time comes.

It helps to have two award-caliber performers like Freeman and Nolte rounding out the cast, too. Freeman is good, as usual, as the stoic president while Nolte is solid portraying the grizzled veteran-turned-fierce mountain man.

The same can’t really be said about the villains, though. No spoilers, but their portrayals don’t exactly have much subtlety.

All things considered, “Angel” isn’t without its flaws. Yet one can’t help but be entertained by the picture. It’s too long, the story isn’t exactly deep and the villains are forgettable, but the fugitive angle can hold a person’s interest and the action makes for a fun watch, especially with some solid characters to root for. 3.8 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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