The third instalment in the Fallen film series is a rowdy, brash and testosterone-filled action thriller which is surprisingly, and rather refreshingly, far more self-aware of its own preposterous premise than one might have expected.
Reprising his role for the third time, an admittedly older and slightly chunkier, Gerard Butler (300, P.S. I Love You, Den Of Thieves) is back as agent Mike Banning who this time has to prove his loyalty to the job when he is framed for a crime he didn’t commit.
After years of serving his country at the side of president Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), secret agent Banning finds himself at the turning point of a fulfilling career. Banning has to decide whether to take over from his own boss (Lance Reddick) as the new head of the Secret Service or retire from a job he is finding increasingly hard to carry out. Tired, sick and suffering from debilitating mental and physical exhaustion, Mike has been hiding the true extent of his struggles from both the president and his own wife (Piper Perabo).
All hell breaks loose when Mike becomes the prime-suspect in a bloody attempted assassination on president Trumbull which resulted in the death of most of his team. Cuffed to his hospital bed after narrowly escaping death whilst attempting to save the president, Mike has to somehow convince the authorities and two eager FBI agents (played by Jada Pinkett Smith and Joseph Millson) that he is being set up by an unknown enemy.
Ex stuntman turned director Ric Roman Waugh (Snitch, Felon) offers an utterly bonkers premise in a film which takes itself way less seriously than its highly lucrative predecessors. With elaborate, and at times utterly ludicrous, action set pieces, Angel Has Fallen appears to be more of an exercise in how many explosions one can fit into a scene than a film with any real coherence in the storytelling stakes.
Butler does his usual schtick, and remains very good at it, as he mumbles and curses his way through an increasingly baffling screenplay, but the real stroke of genius courtesy of Waugh and writers Robert Mark Kamen and Matt Cook comes from the casting of legendary actor Nick Nolte in the role of Mike Banning’s estranged father, a former Vietnam veteran living off the grid. Nolte utters every single funny bit of a dialogue in a film which needed him more than anyone could have imagined.
Elsewhere, screen villain extraordinaire Danny Huston does a brilliant job as Wade Jennings, Banning’s former best friend turned mortal enemy. While Jada Pinket Smith is less convincing as an FBI agent on hot pursuit of our hero.
Overall, Angel Has Fallen might not present a wholly new or even exciting idea, but I would be at amiss if I said that I wasn’t kept entertained from start to finish. A solid, if completely unnecessary sequel to a franchise which surely must be on its last legs by now.