Nick Nolte Steals the Show in ‘Angel Has Fallen’ from Lionsgate
Done to death and riddled with cliches, "Angel's" lack luster story didn't help this film break any new or interesting ground in character development this time out. The one exception is the addition of Nolte's character.
Lionsgate’s third installment in their “Fallen” film series starring Gerard Butler fails to do anything new and at one point even evokes the 1993 film “The Fugitive.”
The previous two films “Olympus Has Fallen (2013)” and then “London Has Fallen(2016),” both did well enough in story and box office to stir Lionsgate into this third, and hopefully final film, “Angel Has Fallen.” One new and massively redeeming quality, is the addition of main character Mike Banning’s father played by Nick Nolte.
An assassination attempt on U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) is thwarted by his trusted secret service agent, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). Instead of celebrating his success in protecting the President, a mountain of evidence is brought forth indicating Banning’s collusion in the attack. Escaping captivity Banning goes on the run in an attempt to clear his name, and finds himself getting some help in the most unusual of places.
Script writing team Robert Mark Kamen (Cobra Kai and The Fifth Element), Matt Cook, Ric Roman Waugh (writer and director), probably didn’t strain themselves too much when sitting down to outline this film. I imagine there was a page full of goals for the film with marked checkboxes for specific action film tropes and cliches they wanted to include because this film is riddled with them. It might have gone something like start off with an exciting action scene, that somehow has a twist, check. Up the stakes by giving the main character an extra challenge, check. Let’s incorporate that James Bond is getting old thing, check. Have good friend turn on main character, check, and the checklist, or rather the film was mapped out to become “Angel” with less imagination and unfortunately utter predictability.
“Angel” doesn’t do much of anything new. There’s even a scene where Banning escapes from a turned over prison transport vehicle. He climbs out and then stumbles away just ahead of the authorities which really evokes “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. With the FBI researching where Banning might escape too, he calls his his wife to profess his innocence and once again he hits the road just ahead of the FBI.
Completely miscast as an ass kicking FBI agent, that was probably supposed to be some female version of Tommy Lee Jones’s character is the tiny and not imposing Jada Pinkett Smith. There’s a scene where she’s running across the tarmac with other agents and looks like a child in stature compared to the other actors and not much of a physical threat to Banning. Her expression, or lack of, does little to evoke that she’s the least bit intimidating.
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There is a strong list of why this film doesn’t merit a positive review, but amongst that long list is a dual positive in casting and writing Mike Banning’s father character. Not listed on IMDB but in the role is Nick Nolte. He’s an off-grid, ex military man, paranoid to the core who ran out on his wife and son years ago.
Banning has nowhere to turn that he thinks isn’t being monitored by the FBI and he heads out to the deep woods where he’s reunited with his hilarious and tactically proficient father. When the no surprise, bad guy (portrayed well despite the obvious trope by Danny Huston (“Yellowstone” and “Wonder Woman”) coordinates an all out sneak attack on Banning and his father all hell breaks loose. In the hilarity of the situation, the banter between Butler and Nolte (which must have been ad libbed because it’s just that good) is when the film goes from bland visual salad to something worthy of your time and box office dough.
Butler as Banning doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before in the previous films. He’s still got that charismatic swagger and ease in front of the camera that drew audiences in way back in the film “300.”
And Morgan Freeman as the President… who mostly lays in a hospital bed in a coma, does that with zest working those fake tubes hanging out of his mouth. Probably the perfect role for the aging actor who only had to do a few scenes in the beginning, then lays in a hospital bed throughout most of the film.
Done to death and riddled with cliches, “Angel’s” lack luster story didn’t help this film break any new or interesting ground in character development this time out. The one exception is the addition of Nolte’s character. Adding him was the best choice overall that the film team made and actually saves this movie from being a dismal failure. Nolte comes with some physically funny and witty dialogue that had people in the audience laughing out loud, which the film sorely needed an hour in. If you had a list of everything that made the other two films work and wanted to rework them with some tweaks, you would get this non-imaginative, no surprise story. With formulaic writing and perfunctory action scenes there’s not a lot there for the discerning film goer.