Production company Millennium Films have been involved with some of the more enjoyable action movies to come out of Hollywood in recent years. Like a modern day Cannon films, Millennium mostly give their audiences exactly what they want, with the majority of their films being filled with appropriately R rated action.
Similar to Cannon, they are guilty of cost cutting, with their films normally containing poor lighting and even poorer CGI. The earlier Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and its sequel London Has Fallen (2016) were both guilty of this but were so entertaining that it did not seem to matter.
With Angel Has Fallen, the poor CGI is less prevalent than its predecessors, but it still rears its head now and again. Also like the earlier entries, this sequel is terrific fun, filled with entertainingly violent action scenes and memorable performances.
Gerard Butler returns once again as the tough as nails Mike Banning. Having saved the world twice, Banning is now working under new President Alan Turnbull (Morgan Freeman).
This is not the same Mike Banning we left at the end of London Has Fallen. His years of service are starting to show their toll, with Banning having a serious dependency to painkillers due to consistent headaches and back pain.
Tired and exhausted, the last thing Banning wants to be is in the middle of action. Unfortunately for him (but great for us), Banning finds himself not only having to try and stop a terrorist threat but clear his name. Pursued by both the FBI and his own agency, Banning has no choice to turn to his estranged father (Nick Nolte) for help.
Angel Has Fallen slightly changes tact from the first two movies, with a stronger focus on character. Of course, there is still the expected shootouts, explosions and fight scenes that the franchise has become known for. With Waugh’s background as a stuntman it is no surprise that he has a keen eye for action.
While his previous movies had an element of action to them, most notably Snitch (2013) which featured an impressive truck chase as its finale, Angel Has Fallen is his most action-packed feature yet.
The sub-par CGI does let things down slightly but thankfully Waugh focuses more on old school stunt work rather than relying on special effects, although he is guilty of an overuse of shaky cam. This seems to be expected in mainstream action movies these days. A forest set confrontation with Butler and Nolte taking out the bad guys is one of the most exhilarating set pieces in the action packed movie.
Like his other directorial outings, Waugh also worked on the screenplay, co-writing with the prolific Robert Mark Kamen and Matt Stone.
It is probably due to the involvement of Waugh that there is a stronger focus on character than the previous two entries. All of his films as director have been character driven. Although Angel Has Fallen is certainly less developed in this area than his other movies, there is enough here to make it quite a different experience than the first two Has Fallen movies.
This is not to diminish the work of Kamen and Stone, as they have both proven their skills, especially Kamen who is famous for writing classics like The Karate Kid (1984), The Transporter (2002) and Taken (2008).
It’s great to see Butler back in full on action mode after his dramatic turn in The Vanishing (2018). While Banning is certainly more damaged here than before, he still seriously kicks ass when the time comes. This is probably the best acting performance he has given in the Banning role, feeling more like a real person than the indestructible hero of London has Fallen.
Morgan Freeman is able to add class to any film he appears in. It is disappointing that Aaron Eckhart does not return for this entry, but having Freeman take his place as the President and be more central to the plot only works in the films favour.
Eckhart is not the only one to sit this one out, with Radha Mitchell’s part now being filled by Piper Perabo. This is not a major issue as the character does not get a great deal to play with.
Danny Huston does well with his villainous role, able to inject more than what is on the written page. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for Jada Pinkett Smith, who is totally unconvincing as the FBI Agent on Banning’s trail. Lance Reddick fares slightly better as the Director of the Secret Service but isn’t given a great deal to do.
Overshadowing them all however is the mighty Nick Nolte. The film does takes it’s time in introducing him, but when it does Nolte manages to steal the film, adding some needed humour. The scenes between him and Butler are probably the most entertaining of the film. It’s great that even at the age of 78 the gravelly voiced actor is still getting involved in action movies.
Angel Has Fallen is never going to change the landscape of action movies but has enough bang for your back to keep both fans of the series and the genre happy.
Written by Guest Reviewer: Darren Murray (Facebook Profile)