Believe it or not – whether you WANTED it or not – Gerard Butler’s supernaturally death resistant secret service agent, and full-time John McClane rip off merchant, has returned in the third part of a trilogy so ignored it doesn’t even have an official title yet (I vote for the …Has Fallen Trilogy because it makes it sound like a frail old lady has had three consecutive accidents in a row).
Lead character Mike Banning has been a suprisingly good fit for Butler, who by now has utterly given himself willingly to a life of ridiculously stupid and borderline racially insensitive action movies presumably because it’s easier to get paid than be picky, but it’s oddly comforting to see him go through another explosive adventure while barely clinging onto his barely functioning American accent.
After weathering a terrorist siege that left the White House looking like the 60 Minute Makeover gang got ripped on amphetamines and gave up halfway through and an assault on London that left it’s number of landmarks numbering in minus figures, Banning and President Allan Trumbull (still played by a very tired looking Morgan Freeman taking over boss duties from Aaron Eckhart and whose beleaguered commander in chief proceeds to rack up more assassination attempts than Ronald Reagan) are taking some downtime when – you fucking guessed it – they are attacked in an unnecessarily complicated exploding drone attack (are drones cheaper than snipers or something?). Failing to turn POTUS into a smoldering pile of clothes thanks to the quick thinking of Banning, the tables are turned when the world’s most Scottish US secret service agent is fingered for the crime (steady now…). Going on the run to clear his name while the FBI and his own agency bumble around in increasingly futile attempts to capture him (Banning’s superpower is that the script writer seems to be utterly divorced from reality), he seeks out his crusty, broken down, Vietnam vet of a father for aid (played by an incredibly shaky Nick Nolte).
The film, while an adequate entry to the action pantheon, spends most of it’s time sneaking the best bits from other movies (Banning after all his epic rough and tumbling is stricken with painful ailments and insomnia and pops painkillers like a creaky Hugh Jackman in Logan) only to crush them under lumbering plotting and gloomy cinematography under what is left is average paste. Even the perky – if lunk headed – alpha male dialogue from the previous two movies has dissipated only for Butler to bellow “FUCK” every time a new situation develops with only the decibel level changing to suit the seriousness of the situation. Everyone else in the cast is just… there. Diminutive FBI agent Jada Pinkett Smith wanders around in a woolly hat looking like a garden gnome in a bullet proof vest while Piper Perabo is strictly on wife duties and everyone else gets lost among the scores of stuntman being flung about by various and numerous explosions. Veteran villain Danny Huston plays his old-friend-turned-villain by the book and his bad guy turn is so obvious that even a time traveller from the 1800’s could spot it a mile off as is the mystery mastermind behind the whole deal.
Even the action seems stuck in second gear with various chases (is a gigantic semi-truck plus trailer REALLY the most pragmatic getaway vehicle, Gerard?) and gun fights being awkwardly edited into oblivion – a fight scene in a speeding car is so dark and choppy the combatants could be playing pat-a-cake for all we can tell.
Whether this is the final outing for Mike Banning I can rightly say, but I can’t say I actually care either because, at the risk of sounding like an action snob, the Has Fallen Trilogy has always seemed a bit too low rent for me with it’s obvious green screens and vigorous flag waving making it hard to forgive it’s frequent crimes against common sense.
Angel has fallen… and it should probably stay down for the count.