If I I had to use one word to describe the first two movies in the X has fallen franchise; it’d be fun… or stupid. The Gerard Butler lead franchise about a secret service agent, who serves under what has to be the most attempts on a U.S. President’s life within a decade, are movies that lead with their chin.
Meaning; they’re unapologetically silly. Making a point to hang a lantern on the utter nonsense of the situation and make the absolute most of it. At least, that’s how I felt about the first two entries. Angel has Fallen is a sequel with much less charm and inherent goofiness that makes it unquestionably the worst movie of the series.
The third movie in the franchise, and the third director also. This entry sees an assassination attempt on President Morgan Freeman, reprising his role as the Vice President, now POTAS. Aaron Eckhart no reprising his role for the third movie. Using a swam of suicide drones, Butler’s character is framed for the assassination attempt and goes on the run while also trying to clear his name.
A combination of planet evidence and his own misdoings involving an addiction to painkillers paints Butler’s character in a grim light thanks to some swift F.B.I. investigations. Which all leads to his former war buddy come private military contractor trying to pin everything on him so that the vice president can ascend to power and start a war with Russia using PMCs.
If this sounds like a list of boxes to fill in an action movie stereotype bingo card, then you wouldn’t be far off. Because there really isn’t much in here that feels wholly original and not already done better in other movies.
The “Has Fallen” franchise has never been especially standout one. Coming and going as B-Tier action movies at best. I mean, Olympus has Fallen had the misfortune of coming out almost the exact same time as White House Down; a movie with almost the exact same premise: Die Hard in the White House.
That gimmick was unique enough at the time that it drove me to check out both movies, which I found surprisingly watchable. London has Fallen after that leaned into the silliness of the franchise even more, turning London into a warzone and taking the time to show Gerard Butler necking a big glass of water. Because he was “really fucking thirsty”.
By comparison, Angel feels far more forgettable. The premise of the falsely accused simultaneously on the run and trying to clear their name has been done more than once before, and better than it’s been done here. And it doesn’t even escalate the silliness of the franchise that I felt like the second jumped from the first. If anything, this movie takes itself a little bit too seriously for my liking
One of the few highlights of the movie is Nick Nolte showing up as Butler’s estranged father. A Vietnam veteran and conspiracy nut who left his family after suffering PTSD. Their re-connection and subsequent scenes together range from silly banter to some genuinely heartfelt moments of re-connection. It kinds of comes and goes with little warning, but was probably the most standout part of the film.
Angel has Fallen is a movie that made a transition from being enjoyable on a semi-ironic level into a just another action sequel. The core concept of taking a Die Hard-Like situation and shoving it somewhere new is long gone in favour of taking it’s influence from other sources like The Fugitive or the Borne series.
The movie itself, however, lacks anything special or defining to help it stand on its own as a serious action flick. Moving away from the biggest thing that made it notable in the first place. I wouldn’t recommend watching this one at all. There’s some fun to be had in the previous two movies, but this one forgets itself and as a consequence; so will I.