★ ★ ½
Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman are back again in this action-packed romp featuring America’s most decorated Secret Service agent. Angel Has Fallen has everything you’d expect: explosions, cheesy dialog, and more explosions. Given the reins to the “Fallen” franchise, director Ric Roman Waugh essentially delivers a cookie-cutter version with a more personalized spin. The film is entertaining, even tense at points, but there is nothing that is done exceptionally well. Fans of the previous films should enjoy this one, as super agent Mike Banning (Butler) is really put to the test, and he must overcome great odds to complete his farfetched and seemingly impossible mission.
Struggling with his health and addicted to painkillers, Banning is getting old, and the constant wear and tear on his body has finally caught up to him. His personal issues aside, Banning still remains the top Secret Service agent for President Allan Trumbull (Freeman). On a cold fall morning, Trumbull decides to take a small fishing trip just outside of the nation’s capital. Shortly after their arrival, a swarm of drones descends on the Secret Service agents and the President. And after another this assassination attempt on President Trumbull, Banning becomes the main suspect.
Waugh, who has an extensive background as a stuntman, definitely embraces his roots here. The movie is filled with over-the-top action that almost seems ridiculous at points. Angel Has Fallen is filmed like an episode of West Wing on steroids, and it is the correct creative choice. Its hectic nature breeds a sense of tension throughout, and the audience is treated to some terrific action because of it. Where the film misses is in its lack of original story, character, and general dialog. Sure, there is a basic plot to follow, but it falls into the “been there, seen that” category. When things are moving fast, the film flows naturally and works really well. It is when things slow down, and characters are forced to talk, that the movie falters.
The acting isn’t necessarily the problem, and most of the cast seem to work well together. Butler and Freeman don’t dominate the film, as Piper Perabo, Danny Huston, Nick Nolte and others have prominent roles. Acting aside, the writing and dialog is ho-hum, leaving a talented cast with little to work with.
Surprisingly, Angel Has Fallen seems to be the best movie in a mediocre franchise. The introduction of a few new characters brings a semblance of heart to the film, even if it feels a little forced. If you enjoy some mindless violence and action, it is a great movie. However, don’t expect to be wowed with originality. A popcorn flick in the truest sense, this film will delight the action crowd and bore everyone else.