Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is getting too old for this shit. After saving the president of the United States in Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016), Banning is thinking about settling down with his wife, Leah (Piper Perabo, replacing Radha Mitchell from the previous two films), and their toddler daughter in the third installment of the Fallen trilogy. (Yes, that’s what we’re calling it.)
Further compelling Banning’s decision is that his body is breaking down following a career of killing bad guys in the Army Special Forces and his duties with the Secret Service. He struggles with lingering effects from concussions, while herniated discs in his neck have caused an addiction to painkillers. Banning’s a mess, but neither his family nor his colleagues know about it.
Also unaware of Banning’s deteriorating condition is President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), who previously served as the Speaker of the House and then vice president in the prior two movies. The president is ready to promote his top protector to director of the Secret Service. But can Banning take the job in good conscience with his debilitating headaches, dependence on pain pills and increasingly creaky body?
Just in case the point isn’t clear, a cautionary tale is introduced in Banning’s father, Clay (Nick Nolte). The elder Banning demonstrates the toll that life as a soldier and alienation from loved ones exact on a person. Could Mike eventually become a gnarly-bearded recluse in the West Virginia country? Clay does provide some comic relief — best demonstrated in a midcredits scene — but the movie doesn’t really follow through on that potential.
During Banning’s Secret Service tenure, the president has been attacked by Korean radicals and Pakistani terrorists. This time around, the threat is closer to home, and the twist is that Banning has been framed for this assassination attempt.
Yet everyone involved, including the FBI agent leading the investigation (Jada Pinkett Smith), quickly realizes that Banning couldn’t be the culprit, and viewers will likewise soon figure out the mastermind behind this grand scheme. (Here’s another movie in which the casting tips off any presumed twists.) It’s also entirely possible that the bad guy could have achieved his objective without involving Banning at all.
But Angel Has Fallen isn’t trying to be a mystery. Like its predecessors, this movie is all about big explosions and Banning killing adversaries with the most lethal force possible. In one sequence with Butler and Nolte, director Ric Roman Waugh (Shot Caller) seems to know he’s gone too far with the pyrotechnics, but that’s probably giving him too much credit. It’s more likely that he was just trying to get to the end of this thing, along with the rest of us.