Films tend to fall in the third installment, don’t you think so? The best ones are usually the first, which are often presented with golden hammers to nail down the existence and territory of the film franchise globally. That said, if you have a constant flow of new characters and contents, like, say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star Wars, then, extending the franchise beyond the third film shouldn’t pose as much of a problem. But what if a film series is as straightforward as a secret service agent saving the president of the United States from terror attacks?
In continuation to Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016), Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) returns to offer his undivided loyalty towards the US president, Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), and his expertise to effortlessly silence terrorists and terror suspects alike. Those of you who are eagle-eyed out there would have immediately noticed the association of Trumbull with the word ‘president’, and yes, Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) had been superseded by Trumbull in this film. Talking about rapid career promotion.
If the name doesn’t implicate clearly enough, Angel Has Fallen will steer you through rough times where Banning, the president’s guardian angel himself, becomes the prime suspect of the planned assassination plot against Trumbull. Naturally, since the days of Olympus and London, this is the definitive path that the Fallen film series has to tread down someday. With Banning becoming more proficient in his job day by day, the world (and the audience) will definitely question, “What if the president’s best man turned to the dark side?” Then the Force… sorry, the odds are, it is highly likely that we will get a blasting finale for the film series. Yes, likely.
There are two major letdowns in how Angel Has Fallen begins, the first being the film’s attempt to warm-up the audience with a challenging (read: fake) secret service operation. Ever been like five minutes into a film and then the lead got instantly gunned down, only to be revealed later that the whole operation was a rehearsal? You get the idea.
Not that it is a universally bad thing, but for Angel Has Fallen, it did create some negative observations for me. The camera work during the introductory scenes got ridiculously choppy that it’s not just nauseating to watch, but is equally random and uninspired. I was starting to question whether the subsequent action-packed scenes would be such an eyesore again. And if the whole operation was a rehearsal, what’s with the gushing blood mist, anyway?
To be frank, that has left a much bigger impact than what I initially perceived, because for films like Angel Has Fallen, action sequences are the essence of the film. Most, if not all of the audience signed-up for mind-blowing action, rather than a mind-bending plot. And without further explanation needed, the story unraveled itself with utmost predictability, save for a few instantaneous brutality here and there, which are more shocking than they are compelling. Ah yes, no prizes for anyone who can guess correctly who the villain is since day one.
If I remember correctly, Mike Banning had found himself in even more dire situations before. Both Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen seem to have Banning completely cornered with all the odds stacked against him. You just can’t feel the same with this. The plot is laid out in such a transparent manner that, despite all the suicidal bravado dished out by Banning, it still feels like he’s just walking through a park.
Whether his situation really warrants for a daddy’s assistance is still up for debate, but Clay Banning’s (Nick Nolte) impactful presence in the film suggests that he’s more than just an excuse in the plot for the writers to add in new material. This is despite that Clay’s insanity has brought up several laugh-worthy scenes that seems to play down on the character’s importance. Clay, together with the unexplainable chemistry between Butler and Freeman, are really the stars that shine through the muddy, unmotivated action-flick vibe that constantly radiates within Angel Has Fallen itself. An honorable mention goes to the slightly unique approach to the villain in his final moments, which is rather neat.
Yet, there is still no room to deny that Angel Has Fallen has got its hands all tied-up with modern-day film clichés like drone attacks and “don’t fear, daddy’s here” mantra, that it forgets the emphasis on the quality of its action choreography and scene-to-scene coherence. To be fair, the action does improve towards the end of the film as compared to the disappointing first act, but still remained lackluster. It’s not anywhere on-par with the level of jaw-clenching thrills that you get in the first or second film. And if you look close enough, the final resolve does look like a poorly stitched together sequence which took place in two separate locations.
Angel Has Fallen does offer ample of mediocre on-screen action, explosions and combat at the expense of proper plot and character development. It does what the film franchise is known for; fulfilling hunger for suspense and thrills which its predecessors are able to deliver well, albeit to a lesser extent. The film’s reliance on new materials such as drones and dad-factor can be seen as an attempt to modernize the franchise, but also hints plenty of insecurity within the script—The Film Addict