Thursday 22 August 2019

Film Review: Angel Has Fallen

Gerard Butler kicks a lot of ass and spills a lot of blood in explosive action threequel Angel Has Fallen

Presidential Secret Service operative and brazen one-man army Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) finds himself branded a fugitive and on the run after a drone strike attempts to kill President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), and it’s Banning who is lumped with the blame. 

Determined to prove his innocence, Banning must outfox the authorities and reunite with a long-lost family member (Nick Nolte) to expose a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top.

Starting out with 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, a gritty and claustrophobic action flick easily summarised as ‘Die Hard in the White House’, this series has followed a similar trajectory as the Die Hard franchise, with a stellar start making way for two half-hearted sequels.

Neither as good as the first or as bad as the second, Angel Has Fallen falls somewhere in the middle, as a perfectly serviceable B-movie that offers loud, frenetic, no-frills action punctuated with the occasional semblance of intelligence or heart.

Butler’s Agent Banning, who starts the film suffering from insomnia and migraines, is more humanised this time round. He has a family, he’s starting to feel a little long in the tooth – it’s your classic ageing solder shtick. Daddy issues rear their head too, and cause a sprinkling of silliness, courtesy of Butler sharing some affable screwball chemistry with Nolte. It doesn’t always find the right tone, but it’s an interesting new caveat to an otherwise run-of-the-mill shoot ‘em up.

With hushed whispers of a Russian conspiracy, lots of meaningless computer jargon and a seemingly endless private army with their own agenda, Angel Has Fallen’s screenplay doesn’t exactly reek of imagination either.

The first hour, where Banning is being chased through thick woodland and hiding out in remote cabins, is essentially an updated version of Harrison Ford’s The Fugitive, with Jada Pinkett Smith in place of Tommy Lee Jones. Butler has the grizzled charisma to keep things interesting, but the various twists and turns aren’t anywhere near as shocking or clever as the film wants you to think they are – the ‘villain’ is pretty obvious from the outset.

The action set pieces feature some impressive choreography and stuntwork, but drag slightly in the third act, leaving the audience feeling a little shell-shocked and punch-drunk come the end. That said, as ham-fisted as it is, it’s hard to critique Angel Has Fallen too harshly – after all, it does come good on what it sets out to do, delivering punchy action, American jingoism, frantic firefights and a level of raw machismo on par with classic Schwarzenegger. 

The Verdict: 6.5/10

Angel Has Fallen is classic Dad fare, and with Father’s Day just over a week away, you can’t ask for much more than that.

Angel Has Fallen is in cinemas across Australia from today.

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