If you’d have told me back in 2013 that the generic action thriller Olympus Has Fallen would spawn not one, but two sequels, I probably wouldn’t have been that surprised and despaired anew at the creative bankruptcy of the film industry all over again.
I’m exaggerating slightly, of course, but the point I’m trying to make is that the first film was really nothing special and it’s first sequel even less so, surely there couldn’t have been much clamouring for a third instalment? I suppose there must have been somewhere as here we are, with the third instalment of this perplexing franchise.
Secret service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is still reeling from the effects of the first two catastrophic events involving himself and the President (Morgan Freeman) when a new attack is launched and Mike finds himself framed and on the run.
You know, I think this might just be a contender for ‘most generic film plot in history’ award. Seriously, it reads like a fill in the gaps adventure, what with a member of a hierarchy being framed for a crime they didn’t commit blah blah etc, it’s all so vestigial and token that it feels like it was merely there as a placeholder until the real plot was decided, but no one bothered so they just ran with it.
In fact that ‘can’t be arsed’ feeling is evident in a lot of the film, it’s direction is so dark and cut-happy that you can barely see what’s going on, the dialogue reads like something that would come free with screenwriting software, and the action and plot is about as shocking and surprising as the sun rising in the morning.
The film hinges on a few key intrigues that really couldn’t have been telegraphed harder if the characters were wearing sandwich boards. It’s so obvious what will happen from essentially the first scene, and if you didn’t see the plot twists coming I would check to see if you didn’t have a bicycle pump embedded in your skull.
That being said however, it wears its generic nature so earnestly that it’s hard to hate it. It knows that it’s nothing groundbreaking so it’s content to trundle along with its stereotypical stock characters and confusing, messy set pieces, it clearly isn’t something we’re supposed to think too much about, god knows the screenwriters didn’t seem to.
All this sounds fairly mean, in all honesty. Angel Has Fallen is a perfectly acceptable popcorn flick, sure it’s plot has more holes in it than a 1930’s police informant, yay it may be the case that Mike Banning is about as original as a One Direction song and about half as likeable, but by the end, it had assembled its loose ends competently, and had at least tried to inject a level of intrigue, no matter how banal.
In truth, I can’t bring myself to hate the film. It’s trying to catch up with films that have accomplished so much more so long ago that the fight seems pointless. Everyone at least seems to be having a good time making it, so that’s one positive at least.
When it comes to judging acting in these kind of films, you have to give a certain amount of slack, no one is expecting a towering performance from anyone, and we don’t get one. Gerard Butler is competent but bland, Nick Nolte seems to be in competition with him to see who can be the most grizzled, to the extent where it’s hard to understand their conversations, and Morgan Freeman appears to be on auto-pilot as he plays himself, again.
In conclusion, Angel Has Fallen is wobbly and shallow. It’s going about its business in its own little world of beige obliviousness. While it may be fun as a two-hour distraction, I’m fairly certain you’ll never think about it again once it’s over. It’s not quite as obnoxious as it first appears, but it is twice as unoriginal as you could ever imagine.