Angel Has Fallen Review

Angel Has Fallen
Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is at a crossroads: he is up for a big promotion, but his health is rapidly deteriorating. But when President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) is nearly killed in a drone attack, Banning is forced to go on the run to clear his name — and find the real threat.

by John Nugent |
Published on
Release Date:

23 Aug 2019

Original Title:

Angel Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen was arguably the better of 2013’s two Die Hard-In-The-Oval-Office movies, pipping White House Down by pitting Gerard Butler’s Secret Service alpha male Mike Banning as a one-man-army against an endless stream of North Korean wrong ’uns, armed with only his wits and his walkie-talkie quips. Like Die Hard, it was claustrophobic, pacy and fun (if not entirely worthy to lick John McClane’s glass-spattered feet) — and like Die Hard, it has spawned a franchise of somewhat diminishing returns.

This is a series that featured dialogue ranging from the action-movie gold (“Let’s play a game of fuck off — you go first”) to the unintentionally hilarious (“I’m thirsty as fuck!”) to the simply offensive (“go back to Fuckheadistan!”). Gerard Butler certainly has a niche, and knows it. But while he seems like an actor who doesn’t take himself too seriously, Angel Has Fallen curiously does. There is none of the sly pisstakery that the first two films had, and, at least until a spectacularly miscalculated mid-credits scene, a sober tone throughout.

Angel Has Fallen

The inner turmoil of Mike Banning, then? Nobody really asked to get under the skin of the man once self-described as made of “bourbon and poor choices” — but that’s what we’re getting, as Banning’s years of action heroics catch up with him, suffering from migraines and pill addictions. “You’re a disaster waiting to happen,’’ a doctor tells him, which might be too easy a gift to more unforgiving critics.

The action hovers between good and just adequate.

After palling around with an old army buddy played by Danny Huston (and you can always absolutely, definitely trust a Danny Huston character) Banning finds himself on the run — the guardian angel of the title, his reputation in tatters. Like the last film, the expanded geography means that original claustrophobia is gone, and there are certainly times when it feels like a generic action B-movie. Elite high-tech baddies, cyber warfare, vagaries about the military industrial complex, evil Russkies — you will know the drill.

The action hovers between good and just adequate. Budget constraints can occasionally be felt; some VFX shots seem lifted from a PlayStation2 cutscene. Other sequences are worryingly incoherent — worst among them a fight in a car, at night, with the lights off, shot in close-ups and so choppily edited that it’s not actually clear who’s winning.

But as far as Gerard Butler action vehicles go, it could have been a lot worse. There’s less guilty-pleasure silliness, but also less ugly jingoism, which is welcome. And in the final act, it harkens back to the series’ bread-and-butter: a Secret Service under fire, protecting the primary asset at all costs, full of tension and terror. It even allows, amid all the machismo, for some vulnerability in Banning Sr, a Vietnam vet played by Nick Nolte with remarkable sensitivity. At least until he starts setting off C4 in a forest. So it goes.

A big, lumbering bastard of an action movie sequel. It achieves more-or-less exactly what it promises — which, given this franchise’s track record, is a low bar to clear.
Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us