The film starts off well enough (well, after 15 minutes of padding, which made me wonder when the film was going to ACTUALLY start), as a drone attack takes place whilst President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) is taking a rare day off to go fishing, and if it feels like it’s the billionth time Mr Freeman has played POTUS, it’s actually just the second time, following 1998’s Deep Impact, while in 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, he was the acting President, so this could technically be the third time, but the same role.
Oh, and what of previous President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart)? We’re meant to just assume that time has moved on as he isn’t mentioned at all. Not sure why they didn’t stick with him as they could just be into his second term, but then since both actors have most sleepwalked through their Presidential roles, it doesn’t really matter, as the one doing most of the heavy lifting is Gerard Butler, who constantly talks as if he has a mouthfull of marbles, as Secret Service top bod Mike Banning, who’s also going for SS Director, as long as he can keep his health issues in check, since he’s verging on 50.
In fact, most people in the cast aren’t particularly pulling their weight and just phoning in their performances.
Jada Pinkett Smith spends her FBI Agent time just shouting at everyone whilst wearing a tight white blouse in the office, but alternatively, she steps out into the field in full riot gear. She appeared in so many scenes, with alternating costumes, that I began to think there was a double of her.
Also, Mark Kermode said that Danny Huston (as Mike’s friend, Wade Jennings) “chews the scenery“. I think he meant “looks bored“, as he’s really not putting in any effort. Coyote Ugly‘s Piper Perabo gets little to do other than get the “crying wife, sat at home” role, but it is (slightly) interesting to note (for me, at least) that I have seen three of her films at the cinema – the other one being 2012’s Looper, and they’ve ALL been at the same cinema in the Trafford Centre, although when Coyote Ugly was on the big screen, in 2000, it was a UCI cinema.
Finally, Nick Nolte has little to do other than be occasionally comic relief as Mike’s Dad, Clay, and while I knw there’ll be a lot of people enjoying the comic turn, to me, it really felt out of place with what’s meant to be a gritty thriller.
Anyway, back to the plot, such that it is, and even though Banning is the man who usually SAVES the President, why does everyone think that he’s behind this drone attack? You’ll find out why when you watch it, but without giving spoilers, it’s safe to say that he’s set up, and that when it comes to figuring out who’s behind it, it’s not rocket science as there’s only so many main characters from which to choose. And this makes me realise – that even though I normally just put my brain into neutral while watching films like this – I let IT tell me who the baddie is, and when it’s ready.
And if you’re wondering about the title, Angel Has Fallen, the ‘Angel’ is Banning, since that’s how the news address his situation.
So, onto the problems and while the drone attack scene is good, any other action scenes in the rest of the film just have zero pizazz whatsoever. Plus, too many of them take place at night when no-one’s bothered to light the scene properly, so while you should be able to still see what’s going on, you’ll need good eyesight, and if you take your eyes off the screen for a split second, you won’t know who’s shooting from where, and so on. This gives the impression that director Ric Roman Waugh hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing, and is just using the dark to mask poor writing and bad continuity, and anyone could be coming from any angle in any scene – it just doesn’t seem to matter as long as you have Mr Butler punching someone in the face every two seconds. I guess London…’s Babak Najafi wasn’t available, and nor as Olympus…’s Antoine Fuqua wasn’t either, even though I haven’t been a fan of most of the latter’s films that I’ve seen.
Also, the CGI in Angel Has Fallen is even worse than London…, there’s no sense of pace or urgency (I recall the gun-toting scene from the second film where the camera looked forward, then back again, following the bullet trails as it went, and looking quite outstanding), and the biggest disappointment is that… it just rips off a plot that ‘24‘ did at least once, since it tended to repeat plots every other season.
Quite often, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) was set up, even though we knew he was the good guy – and quite frankly, the government of the day should have known better – but everyone wanted to kill him, and he would have to go to extraordinary lengths to prove to everyone that he wasn’t the bad guy and that he is actually trying to HELP them. Eventually, he would get a pardon from the President, but with so many episodes to a season, it would take much longer to get there.
Clearly not much was spent on the budget, and this is proved as BoxOfficeMojo confirms that the series has gone from $70m to $60m and down to $40m for the latest movie.
Almost finally, an SFX editor for Angel Has Fallen goes by the name of Eamon Fallen! That’s fairly far down in the credits, so you’ll have to stay a while.
And almost almost finally, the one plus about this dire film is that I saw it for free. I saw it on Sunday, August 25th, which was National Cinema Day. The situation was that you buy a Lotto ticket on the Saturday, and depending on the cinema, you either take the Lotto ticket to the cinema with you to buy the cinema ticket, or book in advance via the CinemaDay.co.uk and then pick up the booked ticket on arrival, again, taking the Lotto ticket with you for proof. So, I booked my ticket at the Odeon, and wondered if the ref.no on my email could allow me to pick up the ticket from a machine, without the need to show my Lotto ticket to an actual human. If it worked, then that would mean I could’ve truly saved £2 on the Lotto ticket and picked the ticket up for FREE! And I put the ref.no in, and…. it worked! However, sod’s law is that had I *not* bought a Lotto ticket, then the machine-collection attempt would not have worked. And I could’ve done £2m. Which I didn’t. Hey ho.
There’s also an early mid-credits scene, which meant a lot of early idiots had left their seats, almost got to the door, and THEN stood and blocked the entrance while the overlong scene played out…
And here’s comparison with ‘24‘ which will be a spoiler for Angel Has Fallen:
The Blu-ray picture and sound are extra what you’d expect from a modern movie, free of any issues, and the extras are as follows, and depending on the length of them, each one has a new chapter every 4-5 minutes. If only the film had so many…
- Even Heroes Fall: The Story (8:35): Clips from the film set against soundbites from the cast and crew is the order of the day here, as we learn what led to making a third movie – and that’s always about just signing off a trilogy.
There were plans to make the film the taking down of Air Force One – as that has the codename Angel, but instead, they made it for taking down Gerard’s character, even though everyone knows he’s a good guy, so that makes the premise even more ridiculous.
- Someone To Watch Over Me: New Blood (13:02): Working with old friends on this new movie.
- Calling All Angels: Casting (18:13): Bringing in new people alongside Gerard and Morgan.
- True Faith: Authenticity (12:47): The one where they all blow smoke up each others’ rear ends.
- Fight For You: Stunts And Action (9:39): Fight choreography etc.
- Earth Angel: Recreating Washington DC (6:25): How Bulgaria doubles for the Capital.
- Angel Declassified (8:38): Analysis of three scenes: Drone Attack, Truck Chase and Zero Gravity.
- Audio description; Does exactly what it says on the tin.
The main menu shows clips from the film set to a piece of the music, there are 16 chapters, and subtitles are in English and Spanish.
Running time: 121 minutes
Release date: August 21st 2019
Viewed at: Odeon, Trafford Centre
Studio: Lionsgate UK
Format: 2.39:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K))
Blu-ray Detailed specs:
Running time: 121 minutes
Released: December 16th 2019
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: English Dolby Atmos, English 2.0 (for late night listening), Spanish DTS 5.1
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Format: 2.39:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Producers: Gerard Butler, Mark Gill, Matt O’Toole, Alan Siegel, John Thompson, Les Weldon
Screenplay: Robert Mark Kamen, Matt Cook, Ric Roman Waugh
Story: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
Music: David Buckley
Mike Banning: Gerard Butler
President Allan Trumbull: Morgan Freeman
Wade Jennings: Danny Huston
Leah Banning: Piper Perabo
Vice President Kirby: Tim Blake Nelson
Clay Banning: Nick Nolte
Secret Service Director David Gentry: Lance Reddick
Agent Thompson: Jada Pinkett Smith
Agent Ramirez: Joseph Millson
Lynne Banning: Jessica Cobley, Maisie Cobley
Travis Cole: Frederick Schmidt
Bruno: Rocci-Boy Williams
Agent Murphy: Ori Pfeffer
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.