Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a US Government agent who takes care of security for the President (Morgan Freeman), still has it in him to prevail in any training session he is thrown into - well, almost, as he is not getting any younger, as he is reluctant to admit. He is suffering insomnia, migraines and back pain, for which he has medication, but all this means he is not sure whether he should be accepting the job of the head of the Secret Service which he has heard he is being touted for. He loves staying in the field, getting his hands dirty, so would an office job suit him? Maybe after what happens next - an attempt on the President's life - he would consider it. If he's alive.
The Fallen franchise clocked up its third entry with this, the Angel of the title the code name for Banning, as it was he having a spot of bother with the enemies of freedom this time around. Its budget pretty drastically reduced from the second in the series, itself cheaper than the first, this did look appreciably less extravagant, and as if to acknowledge that the action was a lot less over the top and more basic, the sort of affair the eighties would have seen from - ooh, to pluck a name out of the air - Cannon releasing back then. One reason for that was it was produced by their former employee Avi Lerner's Millennium Films, the twenty-first century equivalent of Cannon.
They specialised in action flicks with a view to generating lucrative franchises, either through existing properties they snapped up or, as in this case, homegrown efforts - the Fallen series was one of their biggest success stories, with audiences around the globe responding to its gung-ho plotting and plentiful shootiebangs and explosions. Yes, it was as pandering as you liked, but there was no doubting the appeal, especially if you did not like to think too hard while watching a motion picture, and even those who had despised them specifically for that reason were wont to admit Angel Has Fallen was probably an improvement on what had gone before, though fans had more mixed reaction.
Butler was certainly starting to look his age, but in light of that golden decade of action breeding the ageing action star as a box office bonus, that need not be a drawback, and although Banning winced every so often he was still more than capable of messing up any antagonist within striking distance. The story here had it that while a drone attack wiped out all of Banning's security division in its attempt to bump of the Prez, it left him alone, which explained why the devices did not simply target the leader of the free world alone and felt the need to slaughter everyone else in the vicinity while he was out fishing. Not with me? Neither is Banning, initially, but he catches on when he and his charge are recovering in hospital: someone is setting him up as the architect of the attack, and the President is comatose so cannot back him up.
On transfer to prison, the convoy carrying our hero is attacked itself, but Banning gets away, now hunted by the Government and the private security firm which stands to profit hugely if they are hired by that self-same authority, which is why they have set this conspiracy in motion, blaming the Russians by seeding the media with stories pointing fingers at them (oddly, when we see Freeman with other world leaders, he is the only fictional one - wouldn't other countries have made up leaders too in this cinematic universe?). But Banning has an ace up his sleeve, he knows where Santa Claus lives and after tracing him to a cabin in the woods, teams up with the old grump to save Christmas. Or it may be Nick Nolte growling a-plenty as his survivalist father, take your pick. Anyway, aside from Lance Reddick returning from part one, it was an all-new cast joining Butler and Freeman, but the same fanciful loner power fantasies as before, simply stripped back and looking rather leaner because of it. Serviceable rather than inspired, but it passed the time. Music by David Buckley.
[Angel Has Fallen is available on Digital Download from 14th December and on 4K UHD, Blu-Ray™, DVD, and Franchise Triple Boxset from 16th December. The Blu-ray has loads of featurettes as extras.]