REVIEW: Angel Has Fallen
STARRING: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Danny Huston, Piper Perabo, Jada Pinkett Smith and Nick Nolte
Directed By: Ric Roman Waugh
Official Synopsis: Secret Service Agent Mike Banning is framed for the attempted assassination of the President and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat.
THE REVIEW: In 2013, Gerard Butler introduced audiences to a great throwback action character in Secret Service Agent Mike Banning in the hit thriller Olympus Has Fallen and with it a new and formidable action hero was born. Butler’s Mike Banning was gritty, gruff and a nostalgic nod to some of the great action heroes of the 80’s and 90’s and in the first film, Banning went solo to save the President, played then by Aaron Eckhart, and the White House from terrorists. In 2016, Butler followed that up with the even more rousing London Has Fallen where not onlydid Banningave the Presisent once again but he also had to save the entire city of London. The action level was magnified and the finale featured an epic assault on the streets of London and featured a fantastic oner scene where there were no cuts or edits. I have said in the past that Butler’s Mike Banning is the John McClane for this generation and I stand by that statement to this day.
Now Butler is back and the stakes are even higher in the newest outing Angel Has Fallen where the man who can do no wrong is framed for the assassination attempt of the President this time played by Morgan Freeman who was also featured in the last two films. This film takes the same approach as Liam Neeson’s Taken 3 did where the hero becomes the fugitive and all seems lost. Even though this has been done before, Butler does it with his own flair and while he plays Banning a little more low key in this one, he still rises to the occasion.
As the film begins, we discover that Banning is suffering from some pretty serious health issues such as concussions and spinal cord damage that leaves the once seemingly indestructable hero with pain and discomfort. Morgan Freeman, who was the Speaker of the House in the first film and Vice President in the second, is now the leader of the free world and he trusts Banning with his life. Unfortunately when an assassination attempt is made on the President’s life, those responsible use Mike as a scapegoat and frame him for the attempt. Now on the run and with no where to go, Banning must use all of his skills and knowledge to not only stay one step ahead of his chasers but he must also find out who is responsible at the same time. A lesser man would fall but this is Mike Banning we are talking about.
I’ve always enjoyed Gerard Butler’s films and especially like Gamer and the Has Fallen franchise and always thought that he brought an auro of no bullshit to each and every role. With Mike Banning, we have a great throwback action hero the likes we have not seen since the 80’s and 90’s when Stallone, Norris and Schwarzenegger ruled the box office. Now he might not be as big as Sly or Arnie but he is still one tough son of a bitch. Banning is today’s John McClane and while it looks like Bruce Willis has lost a step ot two in recent years, Butler is more than a deserving replacement.
The cast in Angel Has Fallen is pretty top notch as you have Freeman who is literal gold in anything that he does, Danny Huston who plays Mike’s old war buddy who now heads a private contracting gig and the gruff as always Nick Nolte who steps in to play Mike’s dad who stepped out on him when he was a kid. It’s that subplot that really brings a special something to the franchise as we get some much needed history on Mike. Unfortunately Radha Mitchell, who has played Leah Banning in the first two films was unavailable due to filming Amazon’s Jack Ryan but Covert Affairs star Piper Perabo steps in quite nicely and does a great job as she is given more to do in this one. The one negative I had was with Jada Pinkett Smith who played FBI agent Thompson who is hot on Banning’s trail. She kind of is useless in the film and she makes some pretty grave mistakes as well. No offense but I thought it was a pointless role.
Now, of course we have the action set pieces and once again the third entry delivers some pretty breathtaking scenes including an escape attempt by Banning as well as a visual treat in the forest when Banning and his Dad blow up a lot of land to take out the bad guys. It really is jaw dropping and the amount of pyrotechnics used had to be staggering. The real icing on the cake is the finale and if this is the last one in the series that it goes off with a bang as Mike takes on a swarm of hired killers in a building a la Die Hard style and what makes the scene even more thrilling is the fact that Banning is nowhere near 100% as he drives through the enemy. It’s a great throwback type scene with bullets and fisticuffs and it culminates on the top of the building complete with exploding helicopter. We even get one of my personal favorite types of combat in the knife fight that is not flashy but just simply brutal. Action fans will eat up the finale.
I won’t get into the actual twist in the story but I will say that my wife and I did see it coming a mile away and even though it wasn’t anything different it still was a cool way to get the unstoppable Secret Service agent back into action. Ialso had some issues with Banning being framed. After what he has done for the country and the free world for that matter it’s hard to swallow that people would think that he would do something like this.
I don’t know if this is the last film in the franchise but Butler has stated in the past that he would love to continue playing Mike Banning for as long as he can so I hope there are more adventures to come for him. If not, then this is a fitting send off for him and it’s great to have three films with this do or die hero doing what he does best. My review is a little late to the party but I wanted to do my best to get the word out to fans to see this film so we can get more in the future. Butler lives and breathes these types of roles and maybe in the years to come he will introduce us to another character like Banning. If you love action then the Has Fallen series is right up your alley.
VERDICT: 4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
2 thoughts on “Review: ANGEL HAS FALLEN- Mike Banning is Down but Not Out In the Explosive Third Entry!”
Great review! Keep up the great work, I love your site.
Personally, while I still enjoyed this one, I think it is the weakest of the series, specifically when it comes down to the filming of the action. I was disappointed in the excessive use of hand held shakey cam for the action scenes. While some of the set-pieces weren’t bad, others became nearly unwatchable. After the great action in ‘Olypmus’ from action maestro Antoine Fuqua, and the inspired action of ‘London’ (as you mentioned, that one shot battle was AMAZING!), the filming in ‘Angel’ felt like a step back.
Gerard Butler was awesome as always, so I was still able to enjoy this, but I hope he gets at least one more chance to go out on a higher note.
Also, I couldn’t agree more with your sentiment that Banning is this generation’s McClane. I told my buddies that exact same thing after watching ‘Olympus’. While I dig Butler a bunch, I watch these movies and think, “Damn, how cool would it be if that was Bruce doing this stuff!”