[Screen It]


(2019) (Gerard Butler, Danny Huston) (R)

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Action: A Secret Service agent tries to clear his name when he's framed for murdering his entire team and trying to assassinate the President of the United States who's now in a coma.
Mike Banning (GERARD BUTLER) is a veteran Secret Service agent who's thinking about retiring, what with the physical toll the job has taken on his body. His wife, Leah (PIPER PERABO), longtime friend and fellow Army vet turned military contractor Wade Jennings (DANNY HUSTON) and even President Allan Trumbull (MORGAN FREEMAN) think that Mike should take over running the Secret Service once current director David Gentry (LANCE REDDICK) steps down.

But all of that's scuttled when an attempt is made on the President's life via an array of attacking drones. While they purposefully spare Mike's life, eighteen members of his team are killed and President Trumbull is left in a coma. All of which means that not only has Vice President Martin Kirby (TIM BLAKE NELSON) taken over as the commander-in-chief, but also that FBI agent Helen Thompson (JADA PINKETT SMITH) is trying to figure out why Mike was the only agent to survive. When all sorts of evidence points to him colluding with the Russians on the attempted assassination, he's arrested and shipped off to a highly secure facility.

But while en route his government entourage is attacked and he's taken hostage by those working for the mastermind, followed by him managing to escape from them. Realizing the entire world is now looking for him, Mike seeks out the help of his estranged and completely off the grid father, Clay (NICK NOLTE). With his help, he avoids another attempt on his life and then sets out to clear his name, all while using everything he's learned in his line of work to help him elude capture and nail the bad guys.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
When it comes to sequels, some studios and their hired-gun creative teams just keep pumping out more of the same old, same old that made the first film work or at least be a hit with viewers. Sure, the locales and some other parameters might change, but subsequent entries in such franchises often just rehash what we've seen before.

Others, on the flip side, try to shake things up, sometimes even to the point of segueing into something fairly different once those Roman numerals really start escalating. At minimum, most on this side of the "shake up the status quo" realize they need to get some new blood into the mix to freshen things up.

Writer/director Ric Roman Waugh and co-scribes Robert Mark Kamen and Matt Cook, on the other hand, decided to deviate in the opposite direction of that by adding some old blood to the mix of "Angel Has Fallen, the third entry of the "Has Fallen" franchise (that began with "Olympus Has Fallen" and continued with "London Has Fallen").

And by that I mean 78-year-old Nick Nolte showing up a grizzled, conspiracy-minded, off-the-grid outcast who just so happens to be the long-estranged father to our returning protagonist, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) and one who still has a trick or two up his sleeve.

Before he shows up, the plot has our hero looking and acting like a pro football player who should have hung up his cleats and pads a long time ago. Sure, he still knows how to protect the President (Morgan Freeman, taking over from Aaron Eckhart in the previous two installments), but he's suffering from headaches, dizziness and insomnia, something he hasn't shared with his wife (Piper Perabo replacing Radha Mitchell) but has let on to his friend and fellow Army vet Clay (Danny Huston).

Unaware of that, POTUS would like him to replace the current head of the Secret Service (Lance Reddick) who's stepping down, but he can see the response in the agent's eyes and gives him a few days to think about it. But before that can happen, an array of attack drones -- seemingly flying over from "Spider-Man: Far From Home" -- zoom in, try to assassinate the commander-in-chief and kill all of the agents there. Except for Mike.

All of which leads Vice President Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson) and FBI agent Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) to believe -- once a lot of corroborating evidence is quickly found -- that Mike has colluded with the Russians and is the lead bad guy.

With the Prez in a coma and unable to vouch for him, and before you can say "I didn't kill my wife" or "What I want out of each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area" Mike becomes the fugitive, goes on the lam, and tries to clear his name while also finding the real perp.

This time, it's not the one-armed man, but it's not difficult to figure out who the bad guys are (just check the casting folks, it's the usual suspects). And thus what seems like it's just going to be more of the same old, same old, suddenly gets a jolt when Mike seeks out his old man and Nolte shows up to knock it out of the park while stealing every scene he's in.

Yeah, the modus operandi of the bad guys doesn't make sense and there are enough other lapses in logic and plot holes that the screenplay ends up looking like a colander. Even so, you might still be asking is it any good in terms of being a taut thriller or expertly staged action pic?

Not really, as it's mediocre in such regards. But Waugh, undeterred by any of that, plows right through it all, and the goofy, over-the-top approach, coupled with Nolte's presence and performance actually make this fall squarely into guilty pleasure territory.

And so while I was rolling my eyes at the dumb material, I was simultaneously enjoying other dumb aspects, especially as related to the infusion of new-meets-old blood. All of which means the bad and fun bits negate each others, resulting in "Angel Has Fallen" scoring a 5 out of 10 rating.

Reviewed August 20, 2019 / Posted August 23, 2019

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