Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ANGEL HAS FALLEN (no spoilers)

The “Has Fallen/Mike Banning” trilogy, most of you must admit, is just a poor man’s Die Hard/John McClane. You take all the aspects of what made the Die Hard trilogy great, you half ass them, and boom, there you have it. ANGEL HAS FALLEN is no different, it is really just the poor man’s Die Hard With A Vengeance. You see, when just comparing the John McClane films to themselves, as a trilogy (forget Live Free and Good Day exist for a second), I would literally rank them in quality as: the original, then With A Vengeance, and finally Die Harder. Olympus Has Fallen is actually kind of great if you think about it, especially when that abysmal White House Down released later that same year. Olympus had that cheesy, one-man take down charm. Yet it is still no Die Hard. London Has Fallen is…strange. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t terrible, it’s kind of just there. Yet it is still no Die Harder. Angel Has Fallen almost put me to sleep, but then when Nick Nolte showed up on screen, everything just got better and better till the movie ended, and it wound up being better than London. Yet, it is still no With A Vengeance.

In summation, the movie is better than what the critics would have you believe, but it is only a half way decent end to a half way decent trilogy. I could watch Olympus all day long, but I never have the urge to go back and check out London, and might only give Angel a couple of more views if I’m bored, and even then I would only start the film when Nick Nolte (who play’s Banning’s father) shows up. I say that, because the action scene that follows is one of the most laugh out loud hilarious ones since John Wick 3, and those 5 minutes are worth the price of admission alone. And then thankfully the film doesn’t let up until the credits roll. But then…that awkward comedic mid credit scene that caps off a trilogy…(don’t really want to talk about that because spoilers but…you’ll see…it doesn’t belong in that film). Anyway, I enjoy these movies mainly because of Gerard Butler, an action hero who’s the poor man’s Bruce Willis, Liam Neeson, what have you. Butler has that sarcastic charm that for some reason makes his movies better than they would be without him. Can you see anyone else as Leonidas in 300? That is no different with Angel, he definitely elevates all the mediocre storytelling that this narrative provides with snarky sarcastic one-liners (wish there was more of them though, like in Olympus).

I didn’t watch the full trailer to this film ever, I just saw the news that the film was greenlit, saw when they went into production, and then just saw a couple of TV spots that didn’t show much, and in the end, I never sought out any other trailers or clips. It wasn’t like I was trying to be completely surprised by all the “twists and turns” the movie had to provide. When I heard they were making a third one, and then saw mini advertisements for it, I just shrugged. London literally made me not care to see a trilogy finished. I remember caring for London when it was announced, because I liked Olympus a lot, and I guess the mediocrity of the 2nd one drowned out any excitement I had for a third. What I’m trying to say is, it is probably good I didn’t seek out any marketing or get ultra hyped about the movie, because I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the 2nd half as much. Also, the trailers (I ended up watching them after the movie last night) reveal almost the entire film. All I have to say is lower your expectations, and you’ll probably enjoy the ride.

The plot? Mike Banning saves President Alan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman, taking over duties from Aaron Eckhart, because Eckhart was probably tired from the franchise more than anyone) from a traitorous drone strike. They are knocked unconscious, and Mike Banning wakes up first to discover that someone has set him up to look like he was the one behind the assassination attempt. Of course, Banning escapes and has to find out who did this to him and clear his name. Yeah, yeah, I know, we’ve seen this plot before. One major problem with the film is that it is entirely 200% predictable. Since I didn’t really see much marketing for this, I didn’t know it reveals who one of the main villains are in the movie that are trying to set Banning up, but it didn’t matter that I didn’t know before hand, because I guessed it within two seconds, and then I guessed who was really behind it all in another two seconds. Sometimes unpredictability in action movies is key, and the film might’ve been better if it had a little more of it.

The acting? It was mostly acceptable but with a couple of cringe worthy moments. Like I said Butler always elevates his movies as he seems to have a good time making them. Oh and hey, him and Morgan Freeman actually share a couple of scenes together instead of them being shot separate and then edited together weird like their scenes in London Has Fallen. Although Morgan Freeman, who is fine in these, still just screams paycheck, no more so apparent than in this installment where he is either fishing or gets to lie down in a comfy hospital bed for the majority of the film. Though, John Huston and Tim Blake Nelson looked like they tried. Radha Mitchell also knew to bail on the franchise and so Banning’s wife is replaced by Piper Perabo, hotter and only three years younger! Does she have much to do in the film? Nope. Didn’t make a lick of difference who was cast. The main problem/cringe worthy-ness was Jada Pinkett Smith’s FBI agent. Jada Pinkett Smith is a one note actress, meaning that she has absolutely almost no range. In comedic roles, she is too serious and…well, in everything else she is too serious. No exception here. Although her character is involved in one of the things I didn’t see coming in the back half of the movie, still, she is wildly out of her element, even for a cheesy film like this.

The action, mostly all taking place in the second half of the film, is adequate enough, especially the grand finale. The first half though is filled with wayyyyyyy too much shaky cam and horrendous editing that I couldn’t tell what the fuck was going on. I don’t know if the director started calming the fuck down, or they “replaced” him half way through filming, but at least it got better. The grand finale was close to being awesome, and even had a shot at beating the Nick Nolte action sequence, but then some really really bad green screen and CGI came about when a building was falling down and that took me out of the film. I am not familiar with the director, Ric Roman Waugh, but if he directs future action films he needs to calm down and set up sequences more fluidly like he did with the second half. At the beginning, he was almost worse than Paul Greengrass. That’s all that really needs to be said about Angel Has Fallen. If you’ve enjoyed these half ass attempts at another Die Hard Trilogy, you are more than likely going to enjoy this one. If you didn’t or haven’t watched the other two films, you should probably stay far away. At least it was better than the second installment. But for the love of God I hope this trilogy is done and that they don’t green light a 4th installment. If they do, they need to title it Interest Has Fallen.

P.S. Do yourself a giant favor and go Ready Or Not this weekend instead. You will have a much better time.

My ranking of the “Has Fallen” Trilogy:

  1. Olympus Has Fallen
  2. Angel Has Fallen
  3. London Has Fallen
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