Third in the series of “Fallen” movies, I went in expecting a complete action film. Nothing I’d seen from the trailers or clips from the other films really made me expect anything more. I like Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman so I definitely anticipated solid performances from them. And it really was what I expected except for the parts that were a surprise like Nick Nolte’s comedic performance, the realistic action sequences and stellar performances from all the actors in the movie.
Directed by Ric Roman Waugh, Angel Has Fallen follows the characters of Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) and Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) to the third installment of the Fallen series. Following the events of the previous movies, Secret Service agent Mike Banning is responsible for President Trumbull’s safety but when the president is attacked and falls into a coma, Mike falls under suspicion by Vice President Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson). When Mike is accused of orchestrating the assassination attempt and pursued by FBI agent Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Director Gentry (Lance Reddick) from the Secret Service, Mike must turn to unlikely allies to clear his name and uncover the real threat to President Trumbull all the while keeping his wife, Leah (Piper Perabo) and daughter Lynne out of harm’s way.
Angel Has Fallen is exactly what you would expect if you’ve seen the other films in the series. It focuses on the action sequences and uses Gerard Butler’s magnetism to keep the viewer engaged. Even though there are plenty of scenes where I knew what would happen, Gerard Butler’s performance was dynamic enough to keep me involved in the film. While there are few surprises in the story, there are some in the execution of the action sequences in the final conflict in the movie. Plus, Nick Nolte has a surprisingly hilarious role in the film that is the highlight of the movie. Beyond these unexpected elements, it is really the action that makes the movie so fun. The fights are realistic with real-world consequences. There are lots of explosive moments as well as plenty of scenes for Butler to show off his fight moves. And even though there are consequences, they make sense in the context of the film.
The film is also surprisingly funny at moments. I credit this to Nick Nolte and his presence in the movie. His performance is one of the highlights of the film and he made the audience laugh several times. He also manages to steal the limelight from Gerard Butler. There is an end sequence I urge viewers to wait for past the first credits that will make the audience laugh out loud.
Nick Nolte is not the only fantastic performance in the movie. Morgan Freeman is very presidential, commanding as the head of the free world and was entirely what I hoped for. Gerard Butler is engaging, charismatic, and has great chemistry with Morgan Freeman and Piper Perabo. Piper Perabo is charming as Leah. I also was appreciative of Danny Huston as Mike’s friend, Wade Jennings. He was powerful and interesting in the role. Jada Pinkett Smith was compelling and intelligent as FBI agent Thompson. I also loved the performance of Tim Blake Nelson as Vice President Kirby and Lance Reddick as Secret Service Director Gentry.
As I mentioned, the film is predictable. The set up of the bad guys is obvious. It is so obvious that I knew exactly what would happen in the movie for most of the film and lessened the suspense. That’s a shame because the film is otherwise so good. More suspense would have made the movie much more fun for audiences and more impactful. However, some of the action still adds in some surprises and the characters are incredibly engaging as a balance to the plot.
The other lack is Piper Perabo. While the actress is incredibly gifted and charming as Leah, Mike Banning’s wife, her role in the movie is window dressing. She has no real role in the movie outside of his wife and does not get to have any real impact. This is a shame because she can easily do more, especially in an action film. I would have liked to have seen her talents better utilized. This is one film where the men have a wider impact and voice in the movie.
All that said, the film really is fun and the action sequences are impressive. If you enjoyed the other movies in the Fallen series or love Gerard Butler, you will really enjoy this movie. Nick Nolte is the spotlight performance adding humor to the movie and the performances of the entire cast are magnetic. If you love action films, I do recommend this film and remember to watch through the credits for the best scene of the movie.