Explosive Entertainment (Angel has Fallen review)

In the third instalment of Hollywood’s most unlikely trilogy, Angel Has Fallen see’s Gerard Butler on the run after being framed for an assassination attempt on the president. While re-tracking old ground and a lot of common story troupes, Angel Has Fallen manages to defy the odds and creates a pretty compelling, if a little by-the-numbers action film.

The plot to this film is as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. Mike Banning, Secret Service Bodyguard Extraordinaire, is caught in a race against time to clear his name after being framed for an attack on POTUS Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman, obviously). That’s all the important stuff, but the film adds more strands. During the main plot, Banning is struggling to find out who he can trust and who will betray him, all while being chased by the FBI. He also sorts out some father issues with is dad (Nick Nolte) and tries to expose corruption from inside the Whitehouse. He’s a busy guy!

As always, Gerard Butler is fantastically compelling, proving once again that no matter what career decisions he makes, he always enjoys them and never takes himself too seriously. This film features a lot of great practical action as well as a surprising number of laughs, and Butler is a fantastic lead for delivering both. Morgan Freeman was clearly hired to deliver a couple of powerful speeches to be used for the trailer, and then spends most of his time comatose in a hospital bed (imagine the balls of director Ric Roman Waugh having to tell Oscar Winning Freeman that he will be coming to work today to chill in a bed with tubes in his nose).

Other cast members include Jada Pinkett Smith as the FBI Agent chasing Banning, Danny Huston as Wade Jennings, Banning’s former army teammate, Lance Reddick (of John Wick fame) as the current director of security to the president, and Tim Blake Nelson (Buster Scruggs) as Vice President Martin Kirby.

The film’s plot is a bit all over the place. Some of the loop holes it throws at the screen are ridiculous, and whole sections make little sense. I had particular fun when a plot point that the film clearly didn’t want any more was literally killed. Having said that, the plot was serviceable enough, and lead to some great action scenes.

Practical action is a bit of a rarity these days, with computer effects usually compensating for real action (Marvel is great but uses A LOT of CGI). It is therefore very pleasing to report that Angel Has Fallen has a lot of exciting practical effects including fist fights, several HUGE explosion scenes, and a couple of fantastic car chases. Unfortunately, sometimes the editing was too fast pace and didn’t respect the choreography of the action, making it slightly disorientating.

The film features some stylish cinematography choices, as well as a fun score by David Buckley (though certain cues sounded VERY similar to Lorne Balfe’s score for Mission: Impossible – Fallout). Some of the CGI special effects did unfortunately pale in comparison to the practical stuff, but it wasn’t too distracting. Most of all though, it was just refreshing to see a 15 Rated Action flick, that wasn’t afraid to show a bit of gore and harsh violence.

Overall, Angel Has Fallen is a surprisingly decent action film, transcending it’s two predecessors by delivering some great popcorn thrills.

5 stars 3

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