“No more secrets.” – Angel Has Fallen (Blu-ray review)

Rating:

The newly elected President of the United States, Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), has been targeted for assassination. In a dark and corrupt attempt to stir a war between America and Russia, a group of mercenaries led by Wade Jennings (Danny Huston) put the plan in motion.

However, United States Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) does what he does best and protects President Trumbull from death. Only this time, he is framed for the attempted murder of the President and forced to go on the run.

With nuclear powers inching closer to war and the web of deceit getting larger by the minute, Banning has few people left to trust as he races to clear his name and prevent World War 3. Only his estranged father Clay (Nick Nolte) offers a fighting chance to succeed…

Following on from 2013’s $170m grossing Olympus Has Fallen and then 2016’s $206m grossing London Has Fallen, we return to the most macho man in Hollywood at present in the guise of gruff Gerard Butler as Secret Service agent Mike Banning. Grossing just over $133m worldwide makes this third outing of the ‘Fallen’ franchise the lowest earner yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s a flop or a disaster. On a budget of $40m, and released post-summer blockbuster season, Angel Has Fallen hit the mark and nailed its target audience perfectly.

You’ll see the bad guys coming a mile away, and all the attempts to throw little twists and turns along the way aren’t big enough to make see something you haven’t already before in the genre. But, to be fair, director Ric Roman Waugh doesn’t try to sell you something new or highly complex. He sells us successful ingredients for this type of genre – government conspiracy, threat of war, assassination attempts, fleeing fugitives and high-octane chases and shootouts and enough explosions to orbit Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Butler is on fine form here as a world-weary Banning, suffering effects from all his previous missions both on and off-screen, kicking back the painkillers and figuring out just how much more his body can take. From what sounds to be not that much, thankfully it’s all forgotten about when President Morgan Freeman’s fishing trip turns sour and the bullets (and bodies) start to fly. Kudos to Butler for getting stuck in once again to the action hero role he’s always been so good at. He won’t win awards for his works, sure, but he knows what sort of action appeals to fans and he helps give it to us. He looks good, he carries the film and never lets you get distracted when he’s on-screen.

A solid cast surrounds him, ever faithful Freeman is back (albeit in a role with little to do for most of the whole second half), and newcomer Danny Huston as our charming but nasty villain who equals Banning in pretty much every way (think James Bond vs Alec Trevelyan in GoldenEye). Also along for the ride out to stop Banning is Jada Pinkett-Smith and Lance Reddick as the best the US government agency can send out, and we also have Nick Nolte as father Clay Banning. Matching Nolte’s quirky and almost hobo-esque appearance in recent media, he’s having a blast (literally) on screen here and gives us most of that humour that comes with the killing and the explosions in scenes that could have been ripped from a Rambo movie. Everyone here does their role justice, and there’s little to no wasted opportunity for everyone to play their part in the man-hunt.

Cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin and Waugh have done their homework with innovative action and certainly know how to shoot a good shot. A stand-out sequence is a night-time woodland chase between police cars, a helicopter and an 18-wheeler truck that looks dangerous sounds dangerous and is as exciting as they come. Follow that with a few usual thrills and spills, trigger happy bad guys and Butler doing his best to rival Liam Neeson as a growling man out for vengeance, and the quota is happy. To top it off, we have a barnstorming shoot-out for the finale where everyone is such a bad shot when the time comes to it, it’s a wonder anyone gets killed at all! BUT it’s classic of the genre; it’s loud and dangerous and testosterone-fueled bangs for your buck.

With planned future films ahead and even a rumoured TV series following this to expand on the franchise, the ‘Fallen’ films are gaining a firm following of their own thanks to lead star Butler giving fans over-the-top action and extraordinary situations that must be sorted. It’s a new era of ‘Die Hard’ films for a new generation of action junkies, and in that respect, it’s hard not to be disappointed when you go in not expecting Shakespeare.

While the DVD sadly has no special features, the Blu-ray standard, and 4K release is packed with six features that cover everything from a recap of Banning’s three-film narrative, the new characters and actors joining the series, the accuracy in everything from using drones as weapons and political tensions, stunts and action – a true joy to watch Butler having too much fun – and the visual effects.

“Even Angels Fall: The Story”, “Someone To Watch Over Me: New Blood”, “Calling All Angels: Casting”, “True Faith: Authenticity”, “Fight For You: Stunts and Action” and “Earth Angel: Recreating DC” featurettes.

It’s a tight, decent package looking into the film and for fans it covers the lot. Also, there is an audio commentary by Waugh split over three sections of the film talking about the challenges faced in filming the key sequences and the cast and crew involved to bring it alive.

And as with most home releases, the picture and audio quality is as crisp and good as you’d expect. In summary, the third of the (current) series delivers everything you expect, whilst keeping the plot semi-fresh and the action intense with nothing but sheer entertainment in mind for viewers.

Dir: Ric Roman Waugh

Scr: Robert Mark Kaman, Matt Cook & Ric Roman Waugh

Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Danny Huston, Nick Nolte, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Piper Perabo

Prd: Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel, Matt O’Toole, John Thompson, Les Weldon, Yariv Lerner & Mike Touzard.

DoP: Jules O’Loughlin

Music: David Buckley

Country: United States

Year: 2019

Run time: 120 minutes

ANGEL HAS FALLEN arrives on Digital Download from 14th December and on 4K UHD, Blu-Ray™, DVD, and Franchise Triple Boxset from 16th December.

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