Over the past ten years, Gerard Butler has consistently proven himself as an A+ action star, as well as an actor who can be a bit of a chameleon. He’s kicked ass in movies like Zack Snyder’s 300, time dream-focused Inception and his iconic take on Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, but he’s also got his own starring action series role as Mike Banning in the Fallen series. Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen each cleaned up at the box office, and soon Angel Has Fallen will arrive in theaters to make the property a bonafide trilogy.
Angel Has Fallen will put Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning back in the line of fire, but this time he’s going to have to clear his name after being framed for an attack on Morgan Freeman’s President Allan Trumbull. Reviews for the threequel have just arrived, and they’re a bit of a mixed bag. CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell gave the blockbuster 3.5 stars, saying:
Rare is the action-movie franchise that finds a way to improve by its third installment, and yet, Ric Roman Waugh’s bare-bones Angel Has Fallen ends up being the best chapter in all the Gerard Butler-led bunch. Color me shocked.
The third movie is often the worst in large franchises, making Sean’s review on Angel Has Fallen surprising and hopeful. Fans of the property shouldn’t sit this one out, as it may be the best installment of the property.
Gerard Butler showed signs of becoming a more riveting actor in last year’s Den of Thieves (sharp dialogue becomes him), but Angel Has Fallen is yet another movie that turns him into a monosyllabic granite-souled neo-Bronson. It reduces him, in the process, to being a macho lox. As staged by director Ric Roman Waugh, the film’s hand-to-hand combat is so routine it’s deadening — and, for that matter, so is its assault-rifle-to-assault-rifle combat. At times, with Banning in the role of unjustly pursued renegade, the whole thing plays like a generic Bourne knockoff.
Yikes. While the Bourne franchise has proven itself to be one of the most consistently solid modern action franchises, Angel Has Fallen isn’t being treated quite as well critically. What’s more, it’s being accused of being a knockoff of the long-running franchise starring Matt Damon.
IndieWire’s David Ehrlich was similarly disappointed in the contents of Angel Has Fallen. He too felt like it was as ripoff of other projects. Furthermore, he took umbrage with the franchise as a whole, in addition to the threequel. As he put it:
With some actual craft, a pinch more personality, and even a single moment that didn’t feel like it was watered down from 100 better movies, Angel Has Fallen might have felt like a fond homage to a bygone era of blockbuster spectacle. Instead, it brings a mediocre series to a fittingly mediocre close, and sends the summer movie season running away with its tail between its legs.
Well, that’s not good. Mediocre isn’t a word you want associated with a summer blockbuster, especially one that has such a talented cast and a built in audience from the previous two installments.
The cast of Angel Has Fallen includes Jada Pinkett Smith, Piper Perabo, and Nick Nolte, in addition to its returning stars. The film’s plot has been criticized by reviews for being both overstuffed with plot details, while also being a boring viewing experience. The Associated Press‘ Lindsey Bahr described this juxtaposition, saying:
These threads are all thrown together in this kitchen sink of a movie that is unforgivably dull for having so much going on at all times — and I haven’t even had the opportunity or reason to mention that this film also has Tim Blake Nelson playing the vice president and Jada Pinkett Smith as the FBI agent who is leading the hunt for Banning. It’s too much and too little at the same time and neither absurd nor exciting enough to maintain an audience’s interest for two hours.
Action movies are typically thrilling experiences, with explosions and fights helping to titillate moviegoers. But despite the action in Angel Has Fallen, plenty of critics have maintained director Ric Roman Waugh’s threequel failed to keep their attention.
Collider‘s Jeff Sneider wasn’t quite as down on Angel Has Fallen, scoring the blockbuster with a B rating. He particularly praised the inclusion and performance of Nick Nolte as Mike Banning’s father Clay. As he put it:
In the end, however, it all comes down to the buddy movie-like chemistry shared by Butler and Nolte, the latter of whom gets most of the film’s best one-liners. It may very well be Nolte’s best performance on the big screen since his Oscar-nominated turn in 2011’s Warrior. And while it’s crazy to think about, Mike Banning just might be the role that Butler is ultimately remembered for. It just comes easy to him, like Bryan Mills did for Liam Neeson in Taken. The character fits him like a glove. Banning isn’t as flashy as, say, Butler’s star-making turn as King Leonidas in Zack Snyder‘s 300, but he gets the job done, just as he gets it done here… again. I don’t know what will be ‘falling’ next, but it’s comforting to know that Mike Banning will be there when it does. Here’s hoping he keeps his dear old dad on speed dial though.
It looks like the third movie in the Fallen franchise might not set up an ending, leaving the possibility open for a fourth installment. Hopefully this will include Nick Nolte, who may steal the show of Angel Has Fallen.
Empire‘s John Nugent had some issues with Angel Has Fallen, particularly its action and poor visual effects. CGI tech has made some outstanding strides, but it appears that the third Fallen movie had some budgetary constraints that prevented great effects from being used. He said:
The action hovers between good and just adequate. Budget constraints can occasionally be felt; some VFX shots seem lifted from a PlayStation2 cutscene. Other sequences are worryingly incoherent — worst among them a fight in a car, at night, with the lights off, shot in close-ups and so choppily edited that it’s not actually clear who’s winning.
IGN‘s Joey Esposito seemed to enjoy the action sequences of Angel Has Fallen a bit more, although he admitted there was some issues with the moviegoing experience. Specifically, he enjoyed the larger scale gunfights thrilling, while the hand to hand combat sequences paled in comparison. He said:
The movie shines brightest when it focuses on the macro action—shootouts and explosions—rather than the micro, more personal hand-to-hand combat it attempts from time to time. It’s astonishing to watch the climactic gun battle showcase a workable understanding of geography and timing, only to see it evaporate when it comes down to a rooftop battle between our hero and the villain. The same goes for a few sequences early on in which Banning takes down some baddies with his bare knuckles; scenes that should be riveting and showcase the resolve of our hero but are instead lost in the muck of quick cuts and indistinguishable snarling faces.
THR‘s Todd McCarthy seem to echo CinemaBlend’s review, stating the third Fallen movie might be more enjoyable than the previous two. Furthermore, he also highlighted Nick Nolte’s performance as Clay Banning. As he put it,
Angel Has Fallen may not be appreciably better than the first two installments of this lower-middle-range Mission: Impossible wannabe franchise, but it’s actually more fun — first and foremost because of a vastly amusing turn by Nick Nolte as Gerard Butler’s eccentric Vietnam vet old coot father. Outfitted with a dizzying body count and robust R-rated mayhem, this late summer action entry brandishes a small war’s worth of bloody violence and heavy artillery to lure boys young and old to theaters, where the 2013 and 2016 entries both landed in the $200 million box office range worldwide.
Overall, the reviews for Angel Has Fallen seem like a bit of a mixed bag. As such, moviegoers may want to get to theaters and judge for themselves. What’s more, the fans of the franchise seem like they’ll have a good time, especially as its related to Mike Banning’s father character.
Angel Has Fallen will arrive in theaters on August 23, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.