Wednesday 7 September 2022

Movie Review: Angel Has Fallen (2019)

An action thriller, Angel Has Fallen provides enough of a plot to sustain the requisite good quality action at breakneck speed. 

Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is in line for a promotion to Director, although his body is starting to ail. He nevertheless springs into action and saves the life of President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) when he is attacked by bomb-carrying drones while on a fishing trip. Trumbull is left in a coma, and because Banning is the only agent who survived, he is suspected of involvement in the attack.

Vice President Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson) is sworn in, and evidence emerges that Banning received large payments from Russian-linked sources. He is forced to go on the run to clear his name, with the FBI's Helen Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) in pursuit. Banning suspects a private military contracting firm led by his old friend Wade Jennings (Danny Huston) was behind the attack, and turns to his outcast father Clay Benning (Nick Nolte) for help.

The second sequel to 2013's Olympus Has Fallen finds Gerard Butler, at 50 years old, huffing and puffing his way through the role. At least the character's physical decline is consistent with the actor, and the movie places his ragged health at the forefront. Within this category of wild action flicks, the story is not bad: the antagonist Jennings is introduced in the first sequence, with an army of private contractors at his disposal and a reason to go to war (Trumbull opposes the use of military contractors). This time Banning is forced to worry about his family, confront his health, then fight back when all evidence points to his involvement in an act of treason.

Nick Nolte is another plus. The veteran actor brings a voice more gravelly than an old pickup truck on a dirt road, and an attitude to match. Most of what Clay Benning is up to is played for chuckles, and it's good for the series to poke fun at itself while still demonstrating the apple does not fall far from the tree. In addition to Nolte, Morgan Freeman, Danny Huston, and Piper Perabo (as Banning's wife) ensure a strong supporting cast.

Director Ric Roman Waugh knows enough to fast-forward through most of the static scenes, then delivers far-fetched yet polished set-pieces with gritted-teeth intensity. The opening attack on the President and the climactic storm-the-building finale are particularly well staged, and all the chases, gun battles, explosions, and infiltrations arrive at the necessary breathless clip. This angel makes a racket when falling down, but is even louder standing back up.

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