Angel Has Fallen (2019)

*. The Mike Banning movies, identified less readily by their hero’s generic, forgettable name than by the increasingly strained presence of Has Fallen in their titles, constitute one of those unanticipated if not accidental franchises where they had to keep repeating themselves because they never had much to say in the first place. Reminiscent, in other words, of the Pitch Black and Taken trilogies. And since I actually thought Riddick and Taken 3 to be he best entries in those two series (a minority view), I thought that perhaps Angel Has Fallen would be OK.
*. It’s not, though it’s not a disastrous drop off from Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen. It’s really just more of the same (as if you were expecting something different). Apparently Vice-President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) has inherited Aaron Eckhart’s job as president, as well as Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) as his all-star Secret Service hero. Banning is the kind of burly bro who grits his teeth and growls “fuck” a lot. He’s also suffering the fallout from too many concussions and is popping a lot of pills as things get started. A condition one can only imagine getting worse as the series continues.
*. Anyhow, the story here has Banning getting framed for an assassination attempt on Trumbull. The rest of the movie then has him trying to clear himself, save the president, and kill the bad guys.
*. There really are no surprises. We start off with Mike fighting his way out of a bad situation that you can tell right away is a training simulation. Then when the head of the private security company shows up and it’s Danny Huston, and the name of the company is revealed to be Salient Global . . . well, there’s your bad guys. And one sight of the creepy Veep (Tim Blake Nelson) and you know he’s the one behind it all. None of this was hard to figure out.
*. About five minutes in I was saying to myself that it looked like it had been directed by an ex-stunt man. It was. I’m not saying this, by the way, to pat myself on the back but just to point out how generic it is. Also to note how, for movies of this nature, ex-stunt men are obvious choices to direct. Chad Stahelski’s management of the John Wick franchise comes to mind.
*. What’s to like? There’s a drone strike sequence that plays as something a bit fresh and different, though it’s hard to believe. Also Nick Nolte shows up as Banning’s cantankerous dad, living off-the-grid on Booby Trap Mountain, which is somewhere in West Virginia. He’s fun, though not funny.
*. I’d like to say this was the end of the line, but plans were immediately announced not just for a sequel, but for a fourth, fifth, and sixth film as well as a television spin-off. I don’t see the point though in my watching any more. It’s not often that I give up on a franchise, but I’ve had enough of this stocky, charmless Bond (or Bourne, or John Wick). This is a series that doesn’t introduce any original ideas, or have anything much to say or new way to say it. So I’m signing off.

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