Review: Butler back in efficient but empty 'Angel Has Fallen'

Gerard Butler's Secret Service agent is on the run after being framed for an assassination attempt in the third chapter in the 'Fallen' franchise

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Gerard Butler returns as Secret Service agent Mike Banning in "Angel Has Fallen," the latest chapter of the most unlikely action franchise going today. 

This is the kind of by-the-book action thriller Hollywood used to pump out with regularity but barely touches today. Banning is a superhero type cut from the cloth of John McClane, while most of today's superheroes are actual superheroes.  

Gerard Butler in "Angel Has Fallen."

That makes "Angel Has Fallen" somewhat novel in its straightforward efficiency, and the way it pits good guys with guns up against bad guys with even more guns. And it works quite well for awhile, until its climax gets bogged down in a cloudy hail of gun smoke.

After saving London or whatever he did in 2016's "London Has Fallen" — these aren't the most memorable movies, after all — Banning is back protecting President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). But he's feeling the stress of the job: he's plagued with migraines, a fact he hides from Trumbull, who has him in line for a new job as director of the Secret Service. 

When an attempt is made on the president's life while on a fishing trip, Banning is framed as the culprit, forcing him to go on the lam. Alone and with nowhere to turn (and being hunted by a team of FBI agents, headed up by Jada Pinkett Smith's Helen Thompson), Banning retreats to the deep woods of West Virginia, where he locates his long lost father, played by a craggier-than-ever Nick Nolte, his face hidden underneath an unkempt snow-white beard.  

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh, "Angel Has Fallen" has big action set pieces, a high body count, violence played for laughs and a man's man attitude about loyalty and family. It's a throwback piece of entertainment, but in the way it evaporates as soon as it ends, it's also a throwaway. By the time it's over, it's already fallen from your memory. 

'Angel Has Fallen'


Rated R: for violence and language throughout

Running time: 121 minutes