New from Al and Linda Lerner on Movies and Shakers: Angel Has Fallen

Gerard Butler works hard proving he’s still an action hero. He just keeps ticking, even when the violence gets absurd. This is another in a long list of action movies with huge body counts and miraculous escapes from impossible situations with enough loud explosions to keep you awake. Stuntman/Director Ric Roman Waugh (Shot Caller, Snitch) shows he know how to get all the angles on the action shots of which there are plenty. 

This is the third Fallen in the series. Only this time Morgan Freeman is President Benjamin Asher, (code name, Angel), but Secret Service agent, Mike Banning,(Butler) is thinking about hanging it up as his protector. He’s got a wife (Piper Perabo) and daughter, and suffers debilitating headaches and pains from all the hits he’s taken serving his country. Here, he shakes it off more than once. There’s more throughout the film and just keeps going. 

Butler can still handle doing extreme action. He’s approaching the status of mature actors like Liam Neeson, also doing it. The violence is totally unrealistic, but keeps the tension taut. His character is just not done yet taking extreme punishment. The film opens with him taking punishment during training exercises at a facility run by an old bud, Wade Jennings (Danny Huston) who, we thought, telegraphed his part in the plot. 

Then, once Banning is tapped to go with the President on a getaway fishing trip, it’s non-stop action and explosions. Lethal, buzzing, swarms of drones, shown from every angle, target the President. Of course, Banning jumps into the middle of it. The President ends up in the drink and Banning goes after him. Even Freeman, who doesn’t swim, does some of the stunts.  

Both end up in the hospital where Banning realizes he’s been framed; accused of trying to assassinate the President. FBI agent Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) is assigned the case. Pinkett Smith plays a tough, humorless, sourpuss, hot on the trail to prove Banning is the assassin. It becomes a case of how Banning will survive, because you know he will, and so will the President, a la Die Hard. Banning pulls off the first of many improbable escapes and goes on the lam so he can clear his name and try to keep his family safe. 

The only one he thinks can help is good old Dad, Clay Banning,(Nick Nolte), a recluse who has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. He is the fun part of this film, except he looks a lot like his mug shot and he’s hard to listen to. His raspy, gravelly voice sounds like a painful screech that’s hard to understand. Nolte is not just a character, he’s a caricature. He admitted not training for this film, claiming he’d already “been there, done that,” when he did his earlier films. He and Butler play well together. Turns out, Dad’s good at making things go boom, too. 

There are guns and bullets flying everywhere at once. The violence escalates and everybody is runs around shooting everything in sight with big automatic weapons. Banning should have died many times, but you know he’s just got to survive. 

This film provides an absurd amount of ultra violent action in a predictable plot. Butler shows he is still a force capable of mixing it up on the screen. Nick Nolte is a kick. His deadpan demeanor is most certainly entertaining. Is this the end of the road for this franchise? Maybe it’s time for this Fallen Angel to stay down. 

Lionsgate                           114 minutes            R

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