After a drone attack leaves President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) in a coma, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is framed for the assassination attempt. He sets out to clear his name and confront spectres from his past.
Even as a way to link set pieces together, the plot of this film is paper-thin. A good hour of the running time could be cut out by handing the audience cards that say “secret service, private military company, veterans, USA” and let them come up with their own utterly generic plot. Even Tom Clancy or Ubisoft would be a little embarrassed to use such a hackneyed script. It is also never addressed why anyone would believe Banning would attempt an assassination on the president considering he’s already put his life on the line multiple times before in two other films.
There is a subplot with the FBI’s investigation into the assassination, headed up by Agent Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) which never really gathers much speed and then fizzles out so suddenly it is bizarre it made it into the cut. Agent Thompson also suffers from plot convenient intelligence syndrome, where she knows that Banning is one of the best trained secret operatives in the payroll of the USA but still leaves a shed load of DNA and a card saying “it was me what done it” at a crime scene.
But hey, judging an action film on its plot is like judging a painting by the wall it is hanging on. And by that torturous metaphor I mean some people do it but they might be overthinking it. The action is serviceable though does feel outdated. It is a little bland, so much so, it is hard to believe anyone still does shoot outs like this in a world where ‘The Raid’ and ‘John Wick’ exist. It sort of sits in the same playing field as ‘U.S. Marshals’ or ‘Air Force One’; you can’t say you were ever really bored but you were never really blown away either.
Some action sets work better than others. After finding his father Clay (Nick Nolte) there is an explosion heavy sequence that works better because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nolte does raise the scenes he is in even though in his later career he just seems to be coasting as the guy you get when Tom Waits isn’t available.
The rest of the cast are enjoyable enough even if they all play to type. Danny Huston, in particular, just seems to be stuck in a hellish loop of the same script for the same character and is starting to raise the philosophical question: is he an actor dreaming of becoming a sinister military man or a sinister military man dreaming that he is an actor? Once again proving that Zhuangzi was eerily prescient about modern cinematic tropes.
If you are looking for a bit of mindless action ,‘Angel Has Fallen’ is a perfectly acceptable slice of mediocre pie. Those new to the series won’t have to worry about catching up so don’t let that put you off either. Although anyone looking for some balls-to-the-wall action are best looking elsewhere.