Movie Review: Angel Has Fallen
Sometimes the very antithesis of mediocrity is just enough to rekindle a slight energy in a former passion or hobby. For the past week or two, I’ve had no energy whatsoever to write, read, watch films or even listen to music. Perhaps I work too hard, who knows, but one for certain is that I was suffering from a major burnout. At times like this it’s nice to re-assess, kick back with a film that you’ve got little to no expectations for, and be pleasantly surprised at the safety net action hero Gerard Butler has carved himself with the Fallen trilogy. Angel Has Fallen is the third (and hopefully) final piece of the longstanding series, where rather than terrorists attacking a place, there are now terrorists attacking a person.
Narratively, the film is as blatantly generic as you’d expect for a series that has trundled along on the lacking variety of genre stereotypes it can muster. A surprisingly strong cast including Butler, Morgan Freeman, Tim Blake Nelson, Lance Reddick and Nick Nolte appear throughout in rather large roles that are consistent enough given that they’re all talented actors. Some appear far more than others, with Blake Nelson being side-lined, Freeman spending most of his time on-screen in a comatose state, and Nolte appearing to have accidentally stumbled onto set when they decided to use his remote log cabin as a shooting location.
Nick Nolte is clearly having the most amount of fun throughout the film, his brief scenes offer up a handful of ridiculously over the top action moments. A Santa Claus looking Nolte builds a Vietnam tunnel system in his backyard, rigs all of his belongings to explode at the push of a button and yet, that’s still not the most overladen, absurd piece of Angel Has Fallen. If anything, I’m stunned enough to accept that director Ric Roman Waugh was happy to blow up just about everything, including the script.
It should be no surprise that Angel Has Fallen follows the predictable, already trodden tropes of the action genre. The overblown “Russia probably did it” angle is shoehorned in to buy some time for Butler and Nolte’s father/son plotline to develop. A subplot which features in just about every action movie (bad Russians, not a Nick Nolte father/son dynamic), we shouldn’t be surprised that Russia is brought up and everyone instantly assumes they’re the villains. We’ve seen tropes like that date all the way back to the Cold War tensions of the 1960s, the Connery Bond films depicting them as villains has set a trend that continues to this very day.
Still, Russian villains would’ve been a tad more interesting than the predictability of Danny Huston being the villain. That’s not even a spoiler, and if you don’t spot the obvious nature of the character from the get-go, then you’ve never seen an action film before. Huston plays Wade Jennings, a man whose war on the President is fuelled by nothing more than running out of things to do in between rounds of golf, presumably. The film never builds up enough traction to really explain why, and I just assumed it was because he misses the adrenalin of warfare, solely because every other line of his dialogue was something to do with the “inevitability of war.” It was a bit strange in all honesty, and most importantly a huge let down.
That sums up Angel Has Fallen best – a huge let down. A completely harmless action movie that, for some scenes, is a great deal of fun. Butler hams it up from time to time, Freeman knows he has better things to do and Reddick adapts his concierge performance in John Wick to fit a sterilised, less artistically meritable environment and that’s just about all there is. Far superior to Olympus and London Has Fallen, solely because Angel Has Fallen realises rather early on that its plot is ridiculous, so it may as well embrace the novelty.