Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is having a very bad week in Angel Has Fallen, presumably the last chapter in the series that includes Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016). President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) has offered him a promotion to head of the agency, which his wife Leah (Piper Perabo in the thankless helpmate role) would love but would take Mike out of the thick of things—no easy transition for an adrenalin junkie who is used to being the one guy who can save the world. Plus, he’s having concussion-related migraines that he’s told no one about as he’s become one of those doctor-shopping pillheads in search of relief. Plus, he reunites with his long-estranged father who turns out to be Nick Nolte and not the Nick Nolte of The Prince of Tides and Affliction, but the Nick Nolte with the crazed eyes in tabloid mug shots (but the paranoid old coot, character name Clay, does have a way with incendiary devices). To top it all off, someone has tried to kill the president in a tech-savvy Rube Goldberg operation with a flamboyant body count and a tight frame around Mike. Angel has fallen, indeed.
Lean into the ridiculous premise, just go with it. Angel Has Fallen masquerades as an action thriller, but it is less that and more of a guilty pleasure in the way that movies with big explosions, raging gun battles, and other forms of cartoon violence so often are. It’s often funny and the humor isn’t completely unintentional—there is no way Clay Manning is meant to be anything more than a cross between the Tasmanian Devil, Yosemite Sam, and the Unibomber (the last acknowledged by Mike). The plotting is negligible. There is, after all, only one way for this to end. Mike isn’t going to fall on a grenade, after all. (Or is he?)
And anyone familiar with the cast will have sussed out who the evildoers are before the story has even engaged, further deflating what little suspense the movie has. These guys are good, even great actors, but they are so often cast for their talent for gleefully inhabiting the roles of the absolute scum of the earth. Their characters’ motivations are pretty transparent, too, although it really seems as if one of them had just upped his dose of Viagra, bought a sports car, or joined a paintball team, a lot of the mayhem could have been avoided. But then there wouldn’t be a movie, now would there?
It’s the dog days of August, the month studios dump product deemed defective on multiplex screens in hopes some will somehow capture an audience, anyway. Kind of like the movie versions of seconds, items offered as is, buyer beware. Angel Has Fallen falls neatly into that category, but it might just be one that sticks. Is it good? No. Is it amusing? Heck, yeah. And when else are moviegoers ever going to get to see the awesome sight of Gerard Butler and Nick Nolte lolling in sensory deprivation tanks? Some things are just worth the price of admission. –Pam Grady