[Early Review] Angel Has Fallen (2019)

or “Someone Please Help Mr. Boreanaz Up”

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

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

Screenplay: Matt Cook, Robert Mark Kamen, Ric Roman Waugh

120 mins. Rated R for violence and language throughout.

 

Wow, someone worked really hard to get the title of this film into the dialogue, and it doesn’t work at all.

Since the events of London Has Fallen, Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman, Se7en, Alpha) has become the new President of the United States, and Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, The Phantom of the Opera, Den of Thieves) is still a member of the Secret Service. When a drone attack seriously injures the President and seemingly implicates Banning, though, Mike is forced off the grid and on the run as a fugitive with FBI agents hot on his tail. He must work quickly to ascertain exactly who set him up and why before Vice President Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson, O Brother, Where Are Thou?, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs) uses intel about the assassination attempt to start a war with Russia.

I recently watched the first two installments of this franchise for the first time, and I was very vocal that the second film was a big step down in quality, and it seems that trajectory is continued in Angel Has Fallen. Gerard Butler was very hands-on with the story of this one, stating that it will be similar to Logan, a darker, grittier, and more character-driven film. I cannot disagree with that statement more. First of all, dark and gritty do not a Logan film make. To add to that, stop trying to copy Logan and just make a good film. Finally, the note that this is a more character-driven film is rather laughable. The only characters with any real development in this is Mike and his father Clay (Nick Nolte, Warrior, A Walk in the Woods), and their arcs feel like such a complete divergence from where Mike is in the first two films that it doesn’t even really feel like a sequel to the franchise. In fact, many of the theatergoers at my screening didn’t even know this was a sequel.

The screenplay is pretty predictable. I joked to myself, not more than five minutes into the film, that I knew who set up Mike, and I was right. It’s cliché to the point of self-parody. This is a trilogy capper that feels so much like Tak3n down to the simplistic frame-the-hero plot and the FBI team that can’t see the answer right in front of them for most of the film.

The only true winner for this film is the addition of Nick Nolte as Clay, the father. Yes, his character seems out of place here, but working with what I’m given, it’s nice to see some semblance of where Mike gets his thought processes. His dad is a guy who is always thinking several steps ahead and planning for the worst-case scenario, and I kind of get where Mike, as a character, comes from. That being said, there’s no set-up for his character and he just kind of appears. Much of the dialogue from his first few scenes attempts to build a lot of exposition in not a lot of time. Each line is overflowing with information that nobody would ever actually feel the need to say.

Angel Has Fallen is the weakest film in the trilogy. I feel like no one is really here to play in this installment. The plot is clunky and thin, the dialogue isn’t very strong, and no character outside of Nolte is really engaging to watch. It’s unfortunate to say that this franchise may have fallen…for the last time.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen, click here.

For my review of Babak Najafi’s London Has Fallen, click here.

London Has Fallen (2016)

or “I’ve Fallen, and I Can’t Get Up: The Movie”

Director: Babak Najafi

Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Jackie Earle Haley, Sean O’Bryan, Waleed Zuaiter

Screenplay: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast, Chad St. John

99 mins. Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.

 

Someone should always be keeping an eye on Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Bleed for This). Dude keeps getting attacked or kidnapped.

It’s been six years since the attack on the White House, and Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, The Phantom of the Opera, Den of Thieves) is still in the Secret Service, keeping a protective eye on President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart). Soon, though, Mike is going to be a father, and he’s thinking about giving the job up. But when a funeral for the UK Prime Minister turns into a series of coordinated attack intended to assassinate the Western leaders, Mike is forced to ensure the safety of the President once again as they are pursued through the streets of London, being hunted by a terrorist out for revenge.

Just about everything in this sequel is a step down in quality from the previous film. The visual effects are very hit-or-miss, with some of them being passable while still others, especially the sequence with the helicopter from the trailer, being downright atrocious. The writing is choppier, the dialogue somehow even cheesier and goofier than the original, and the direction is mostly simplistic.

The action is a lot more kinetic this time around as we aren’t forced into the confines of a singular setting. London is the playground here and it’s fun to see Eckhart’s character as he gets a lot more to do this time around. His bro-chemistry is pretty strong with Butler. Again, many of the performances work passably enough within the confines of this B-action thriller, but many of our returning characters have nothing to do in this sequel. You’d be forgiven if you didn’t remember Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, Bigger) returning as General Clegg.

Sadly, though, for all the action set pieces within the film, most of the action is quickly forgettable save for the terrific assault shootout near the end of the film with Banning and a team of Delta Force/SAS squad moving through the streets of London toward the terrorist hideout. It’s exciting, flashy, and an all-around stellar set piece.

I feel like the one thing this sequel does better than the original is the pacing. Most of the film keeps swiftly moving with the shorter run time and a more intensive mission for Banning and the President. The scenes with Morgan Freeman (Se7en, Alpha) and the rest of the intelligence staff don’t have the same intensity, but the film isn’t really focused on them.

London Has Fallen is a significantly weaker film than its predecessor, taking a familiar and straightforward action film over something with a stronger premise. It’s fine for the most part, but it’s also largely forgettable and loses a lot of the intensity of the first film save for one phenomenal sequence. Butler’s Banning is still kick-ass, but he’s given a thicker layer of cheese due to some really shabby writing. For the most part, if you really enjoyed the first film, I think you can like this one just fine, but this will do nothing to attract newer audiences.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen, click here.

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

or “Someone call John McClane! He’ll know what to do!”

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Cole Hauser, Finley Jacobsen, Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitchell, Rick Yune

Screenplay: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt

119 mins. Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.

 

I’m finally getting around to watching the Fallen trilogy (that’s what I’m calling it, deal with it) now with the third film hitting theaters. When Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down both released in the same year, I felt like the friend of a couple breaking up who had to choose sides, and I chose neither, so now here I am, years later, finally catching this one.

When terrorists capture the White House and take President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart, The Dark Knight, Bleed for This) hostage along with several high-ranking members of his cabinet, it becomes up to former Secret Service lead Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, The Phantom of the Opera, Den of Thieves) to rescue them before terrorist leader Kang (Rick Yune, Die Another Day, Alita: Battle Angel) dispatches them and gets the codes to a dangerous protocol labeled Cerberus. Banning teams up with Speaker of the House Trumbull (Morgan Freeman, Se7en, Alpha) who is acting President during the attack in order to safely rescue the cabinet members and Asher, but their allies might not all be on the same side.

Olympus Has Fallen is an action film which harkens back to a specific time period in the genre with Gerard Butler as the classic action hero a la Stallone and Schwarzenegger. He’ll never hit that level, but there’s a 80s/90s somewhat cheesy attitude about the film, but director Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer, American Dream/American Nightmare) mostly sticks the landing in this Die Hard-style thriller.

Butler is not winning any awards with his performance as Banning, nor is anyone else in the film, but there’s the sense that all performers, from Eckhard to Freeman to Angela Bassett (Strange Days, TV’s 9-1-1), who plays Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs, know exactly what film they are in and playing to the action and cheese instead of shying away from it.

The screenplay, from Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt (The Expendables 3) isn’t very layered, and some of the dialogue is overtly stupid, as if it was only written for a tagline or a trailer moment, but it’s successful enough under the capable direction of Fuqua, who, like his performers, understands what movie he is making.

There’s a lot of action and a considerable amount of CG, and very little of the CG has aged all that well. Some of the special effects are downright cringe-inducing in the film, and maybe that helps play up the B-action quality of the film. It’s just not very good use of special effects throughout, and some more practical effects work would have saved some of the silliness in the final product.

Olympus Has Fallen created an action superstar in Mike Banning. I’m not surprised the film sparked a franchise, and for all its cheese and stupidity, it was a rather enjoyable political siege thriller. Aided by top-notch performers having fun with the material, I was rather enthralled with the twists and turns of the film. It’s a good film. Not amazing, but sometimes good is enough.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer, click here.

Kyle’s Top Ten Worst Films of 2018

2018 has come to an end, and there were so many amazing movies. There were also some stinkers. Some real stinkers. There were a lot of surprisingly disappointing films and there were some that just didn’t work at want they tried to be. I kept thinking to myself that there were so many films that I liked in 2018 that coming up with ten bad ones would be tough. It was not tough. It was only tough whittling down to 10.

Just a couple of notes:

  • I didn’t see every movie in 2018. I didn’t see every bad film in 2018. This is a list of the worst films that I saw.
  • This is my personal list. You may have loved one or all of these. I did not.
  • I still have not seen The Emoji Movie from 2017. Just letting you all know.

 

Alright, let’s hold hands and get this over with…

 

10. Tag

-Well, one of them had to win. Game Night and Tag were released in the same year, and I honestly didn’t realize going into 2018 that they were different films until the first trailers dropped for each. Game Night was one of the better films of the year, and Tag was just…not. The film was over-the-top and unrealistic and I didn’t buy that the story was anywhere close to the true story that it was based on.  It becomes all the more apparent how bad Tag really is when compare to its obvious alternate in Game Night, but the real crime of Tag is its complete lack of comedy. I found myself hoping to laugh, praying. Nothing, though. Tag just isn’t It.

 

9. Winchester

Winchester is a film that should have been good. I like the Spierig brothers. I’ve enjoyed all of their films to this point. Winchester is based on the infamous Winchester haunted house. Starring Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke, this just seemed to have it all put together. It just wasn’t scary and became rather dull. Just like Tag‘s lack of comedy, Winchester‘s lack of fright just kills it. It’s the kind of film that should have been more epic in nature being a house filled with the dead. It could have become a franchise built around a different spirit each go-around, but it just falls flat.

 

8. Early Man

Early Man is probably the only film on my list that I know many people loved. I spoke to many other reviewers who gave Early Man recognition. For me, the film started out strong as a film about the early periods in humanity, and then it devolved into a soccer movie. Ugh. I loved it until it became a soccer movie. I had no interest in the direction of the film at that point. Most of the jokes fell flat at that point and I just couldn’t wait for it to be over. This may be irrational distaste, but it is distaste nonetheless. I did not like it at all.

 

7. Life Itself

Life Itself didn’t really hit me until a day after I saw it. I remember being very confused about the whole thing. I couldn’t decide it I liked it or not until some time passed. Then, I started to really think about it, and not long after, I realized all the problems that existed in the film. Then, I remember hatred. It all became clear to me that the film was nothing but schmaltzy depression under the visage of a romantic drama. It’s so poorly constructed and manipulative. The more time I thought about it, the more it dropped to the worst of the pile for 2018. I’d prefer not to think of it anymore.

 

6. Mile 22

Mile 22 is just boring, which isn’t a good sign for an action film. It’s really unimpressive. The character of Alice (played by Lauren Cohan) is written really poorly, with most of the character arc being about her as a woman on this team. Lastly, the twist at the ending caused a really dumb and disappointing finale. The film without the twist might not have made this list, but the ending leaves such a bad taste in my mouth that it crossed the line into my least favorite films of the year. It might be time to end the Mark Wahlberg/Peter Berg relationship.

 

5. I Can Only Imagine

-I caught some heat this year for claiming this movie looked terrible based on the trailer. Several of my followers claimed that I was against this film for being religious, so let me say it right here: this is a bad movie, and it has nothing to do with its subject material. The film, about the creation of the title song, is filled with bad writing. The leads in the film have nothing to do but read their lines and the performances become Lifetime-movie level because of it. I couldn’t wait for it to come to an end, and I found that it took far too long to get there. Overall, I Can Only Imagine is a bad film because of its writing and editing.

 

4. Den of Thieves

Den of Thieves is just too damn long. This is such a long movie and the finale twist doesn’t work. Gerard Butler is such an unlikable lead and there’s no reason for me to root for it. Pablo Schreiber is not an interesting or complex villain. Outside of these two and O’Shea Jackson, I can barely remember any of the other characters in this film. I found myself not interested in anything going on and I didn’t want to finish the movie. I did it for you, though. You are welcome.

 

3. Fifty Shades Freed

-If there’s one nice thing to say about Fifty Shades Freed, it’s this: at least the fucking thing is over. Thank God the Fifty Shades trilogy is done. Fifty Shades Freed is so boring and bland. This movie should have the hot and steamy film that it promises to be, and yet, it is empty of any worth. It’s too bad that this wasn’t a better series because the erotic thriller subgenre has virtually gone extinct and this had a chance to bring it back. Well, it’s based on a shitty book series, so there you have it.

 

2. 12 Strong

-There’s a central theme to this year’s bad films and it is that there were a lot of boring movies this year. 12 Strong was one of those films. There’s just no style to this movie and Chris Hemsworth is incapable of carrying this film. I like Hemsworth, but he does not save the film. 12 Strong just didn’t captivate me at all, and none of the characters were likable nor interesting. It’s just a forgettable film. That’s the gift it gives us.

 

1. Slender Man

Slender Man was the dumbest idea of 2018. First of all, it isn’t even based on the game that Slender Man appears in. It’s based on the flimsy urban legend. After that, it’s a shitty script with terrible performances, lost direction, and some of the worst editing I’ve ever seen. You can blame studio interference (and I do) or you can blame all the other faults I’ve mentioned (and I do), but it’s a mixture of just how bad this movie is. It’s easily the worst film of 2018.

 

So there we are. These are the worst films of 2018. Thank God it’s done.

Is there something I missed here? What did you think was the worst film of 2018? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

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