Saturday, February 15, 2020

Movie Reviews: Angel Has Fallen

Angel Has Fallen
directed by Ric Roman Waugh
This is the third installment in an action adventure series that centers around men who try to kidnap or kill the President and the Secret Service agents who try to stop them. The movie is not boring. It is comfortable in the same way that wrapping yourself in a favorite old blanket is comfortable. As long as you don't care about the frayed ends, questionable spots, and rips where the stuffing is falling out, no one else will either. 

The quality of the acting and the cinematography are all what you would expect from work that involves A-list actors. The writing? Well like I said it is a comfortable sequel. The bad guys are way too obvious. People who don't even like or watch movies like this would be able to tell you who the bad guys are and what they want in the first ten minutes of the film.
That's not really a good thing.

Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is a Secret Service agent who is getting up there in age. He suffers from migraines, concussions and other pains from his Secret Service work and military experiences. It's about time for Banning to move out of the direct field work and take a promotion to head of the Secret Service. It's Washington D.C.'s worst kept secret that Banning will get the spot after the current Secret Service Director David Gentry (Lance Reddick) retires. 

But Banning doesn't want to do that, because among other reasons, he still enjoys the frontline experience of being on President Trumbull's (Morgan Freeman) security detail. He doesn't want to sit behind a desk and do fake battle with corpulent staffers, Senators, and lobbyists for his budget each year.

Banning also wants to stay sharp.  You can't protect the President if you're not in tip top physical condition and mentally agile enough to process tons of information almost instantaneously. 

Banning attends training exercises at his buddy Wade Jennings' (Danny Huston) compound. Jennings and Banning served together overseas and apparently have saved each other's lives in the past. Jennings runs Salient , a one stop intelligence, private security and mercenary firm. 

Much like his character in Yellowstone, Huston plays Jennings as a good guy who has to make tough decisions in a complicated world. During a period of rising tensions with Russia, the President decides to go fishing. 

He also decides to formally offer Banning the job as Secret Service Director. But before Banning can say yes, no, or let me talk to my wife Leah (Piper Perabo), the President and the entire security detail are attacked by drones. Everyone dies except the President and Banning. 

Well that doesn't look too good for Banning as fervid FBI agent Helen Thompson (Jada Pickett Smith) tersely explains to a handcuffed and badly concussed Banning when he wakes up in the hospital. The President is in a coma so the Vice-President (Tim Blake Nelson) has assumed Presidential duties.

Well a real man like Banning isn't going to let little things like brain damage and federal charges slow him down is he? Someone is setting him up!

This film sacrificed subtlety and smarts for explosions, chases, and gun battles. I don't mind all of those things but they need to make some sort of sense. As mentioned, the identity and motivations of the bad guys are far too obvious far too soon. 

And although I'm no security expert just as the President's protectors take pains to ensure that there are no open office windows within say 500-1000 yards of a Presidential appearance I'd bet that it would be difficult if not impossible to fly explosive devices or anything else around the President without someone noticing and identifying the controller. 

Questionable writing aside the film benefits from the authoritative presence of Butler and Freeman in their respective roles. But aside from that, this is a silly action movie that would have worked much better as a smarter thriller. Nick Nolte has a small role. I didn't recognize him. Time catches up with us all.

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