By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
If anyone had asked me six years ago that I will enjoy the two sequels to Olympus Has Fallen, I would have thought them insane. Even though the films in this franchise franchise often have dumb and silly elements, they do have likable characters, incendiary action and genuine tension. Yeah, if someone had asked me if I thought Olympus Has Fallen would spawn two enjoyable sequels, I would have laughed in that person’s face. As it turns out, London Has Fallen and the new installment, Angel Has Fallen, definitely deliver the goods when it comes to popcorn devouring, action cinema.
Badass Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) remains employed as protector of the POTUS. After serving as an agent during President Benjamin Asher’s (Aaron Eckhardt) term(s), he is now protecting President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). Banning his been through quite a bit during his tenure, and age, with the wear and tear on his body, has taken a toll. As Banning considers a less demanding promotion, a new threat arises towards the president and it is one that frames him as the main suspect. As President Trumbull lies in a coma in a hospital, Banning must go rogue and discover the real villains behind this latest assassination attempt.
Now I am not about to blow smoke in my readers faces and champion this film as a smart and amazing film, because it is certainly not that. And for that matter, neither are the other films in this silly franchise. I will say, however, that Angel Has Fallen is yet another fun and exciting action flick that is enjoyable despite its ridiculousness. Written and directed by Ric Roman Waugh, who co-wrote with Robert Mark Kamen and Matt Cook, the film is silly, goofy, thrilling and so stupidly entertaining. Movies as ludicrous as this have no right to be so enjoyable, but the filmmakers involved with this franchise have managed to pull it off.
It certainly helps that all of these movies have had great casts, and Angel is not an exception. Gerard Butler returns as Mike Banning, the tough-as-rivets, badass Secret Service agent that will always fight through pain, fear, and adversity to protect the U.S. president. Butler has this character down pat, and could easily remain in this role for more installments. Also returning is Morgan Freeman who portrays the charismatic President Trumbull. I’m not entirely sure he’s a good president, but doggone it, he is likable and worth saving.
The film also features Danny Huston as Wade Jennings, a military mentor of sorts to Banning, but one who is very calculating in his aims. Also new to the franchise are Tim Blake Nelson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, and Piper Perabo. All of who perform adequately in their roles.
Now the one thing this film offers, which sets it apart from its predecessors, is a wild card, and it’s a great one. What I am referring to is the casting of veteran actor Nick Nolte as Banning’s estranged father Clay. When Mike Banning has no one to rely on, he desperately turns to his grizzled, paranoid father Clay. This subplot proves to be the film’s most entertaining element and Nick Nolte, with his natural coarseness and comic timing, is mainly what makes this movie so worthwhile.
So even though Nolte’s inclusion and the development of his character is what helps elevate the entertainment level in this movie, it doesn’t make it an outstanding film. However, it does give Angel Has Fallen something special. I honestly don’t recommend spending full price or matinee prices to see this film, but it is enjoyable enough to be experienced as a fun movie at home. It is dumb, fun, and certainly not ho hum.