Angel Has Fallen

 

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Gerard Butler returns as Secret Service agent Mike Banning in another accomplished helping of hokum dressed to kill.

 

Angel Has Fallen

Off the grid: Gerard Butler

  

Mike Banning has saved the White House and London, but can he save himself? As the president’s most trusted Secret Service agent, he is the guardian angel of the Oval Office and it takes a particularly ingenious and unscrupulous enemy to convincingly frame Banning for the attempted murder of the Commander in Chief. It also takes some skill to pump fresh adrenalin into a scenario with so many familiar tropes, yet, as an action-thriller, Angel Has Fallen is every bit as gripping as its predecessors, Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016).

 

Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is a middle-aged operative suffering from migraines and insomnia, a condition he hides from both his wife (Piper Perabo) and his friend and employer, President Trumble (Morgan Freeman). He’s in the frame to be promoted to the office of president of the Secret Service, but before then he escorts Trumble on a fishing trip. It’s then that the president’s heavily-armed security detail is wiped out by a swarm of armed drones, with only Banning and Trumble surviving, thanks to the former’s quick wits. But with the president in a coma and Banning the only agent left alive, suspicion quickly falls on Banning’s head, aided by some pretty persuasive incriminating evidence. Soon, the Secret Service, the FBI, the police force and the real villains are all on Banning’s tail, while his face is plastered all over the news.

 

Gerard Butler follows the pattern of many stars about to turn fifty – he huffs, puffs and winces a lot more, but when push comes to shove, he can still beat the plasma out of a highly-trained assassin half his age. At 82, President Freeman is no spring chicken either, but is suitably presidential (he previously played the chief executive in Deep Impact, 1998), while Piper Perabo makes a sympathetic and creditable Mrs Banning, replacing Rhada Mitchell from the earlier films.

 

Angel Has Fallen is no masterpiece, but it delivers its set pieces with consummate skill and highlights the horrific efficacy of modern warfare. It is unapologetically violent, but then gives Nick Nolte an anti-war speech that is surprisingly heartfelt, which might suggest a note of hypocrisy. Even so, it delivers the thrills and keeps the action moving at a healthy clip, in spite of a running time of two hours. And it excels where other pumped-up conspiracy thrillers let the side down. The Bannings’ baby is frighteningly convincing in times of both leisure and peril (and these things matter), while the action sequences are nothing short of spectacular. It’s a gripping guilty pleasure.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Piper Perabo, Nick Nolte, Danny Huston, Frederick Schmidt, Michael Landes, Joseph Millson, Mark Arnold, Kerry Shale.

 

Dir Ric Roman Waugh, Pro Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel, Matt O'Toole, John Thompson, Les Weldon and Yariv Lerner, Screenplay Robert Mark Kamen, Matt Cook and Ric Roman Waugh, from a story by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, Ph Jules O'Loughlin, Pro Des Russell De Rozario, Ed Gabriel Fleming, Music David Buckley, Costumes Stephanie Collie.

 

Millennium Media/G-BASE-Lionsgate.

120 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 21 August 2019. Cert. 15.