Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel, Matt O’Toole, John Thompson, Les Weldon, Yariv Lerner
Bizarre as it may seem, it does appear that the hatching of the plot of this edition of the ‘Fallen’ series – a franchise which deals with the secret service protecting the US President – functions, inadvertently, as a simulation movie for serving agents to train on. The film is buzzing with the story of how the Russians have hacked the electoral system, and how they could well hack at an elected Head of State.
Topicality is all. An attack like this – the swirling tales go – could egg a President on to war, to the infinite benefit of selected corporations. A movie idea evolves around this notion, and from it a script. The production designers and the actors then come in and do the rest of the wall papering.
In which case, the rhetorical question should be – why do you need a movie director? You just need a computer software programmer to work out simulations of all possible threats, make a film of it, and show it to the secret service to work on updated situations of threats to the President.
Why indeed? ‘Angel Has Fallen’, as the title suggest, works on a ‘fall guy’ sketch. This means that the finest and most senior agent protecting the President is framed by an avalanche of ‘evidence’ that appears on cue.
So Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), the most trusted of the secret service, is roasted after a drone attack that takes place when President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) takes time out of the toxic political environment of DC, and goes on a fishing trip. An armed fleet of flying machines suddenly appears, and, like a colony of bats, swoops down on the Presidential party in the river, and on the agents guarding him from the shore.
This assassination attempt is immediately linked to Banning. There is a surfeit of DNA matches and transfers of large sums of money to his personal account. From the sheer volume of information spewing out, any moron can figure out that the man is being set up. But not his FBI investigator, played by Jada Pinkett Smith. Looking like a space cadet in her role, completely out of her depth, her sweeping judgements, her repeated insistence on Banning’s guilt, and her staccato manner of speaking is totally unconvincing. It even jeopardises the credibility of the narrative.
The rest of the cast also looks jaded. Morgan Freeman, well into his eighties, appears too old and tired in his role as a US President trying to survive a palace coup. Gerard Butler isn’t his usual confident self, and sleepwalks through a number of his scenes. And, as if to compensate for the inadequacy of performances and some minor age related problems, voila, the makers of the film bring back Nick Nolte, 78, as Mike Banning’s long lost Dad, white beard and all, for all the world looking like the ancient mariner who shot the albatross.
Since the doomsday recipe in this movie is not as apocalyptic as the series demands, this installment does not work too well. There is plenty of shooting, to be sure, but the bonfire is missing.