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Reviews for August 23rd, 2019

Angel Has Fallen

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh

      Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a Secret Service agent, must prove his innocence when he gets framed for an attempted assassination of U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). While on the run from those who framed him and from FBI Agent Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith), he reunites with his father (Nick Nolte) who's been hiding out off the grid in the middle of a forest.

      Angel Has Fallen is a slight improvement over London Has Fallen and just as fun as Olympus Has Fallen. The screenplay by writer/director Ric Roman Waugh, Robert Mark Kamen and Matt Cook lacks logic, reason, nuance and realism, but who goes to an action thriller like Angel Has Fallen looking for any of those qualities? This is a B-movie and it wears that badge proudly on its sleeve. Mike survives shoot-outs and explosions while barely sweating, and his hair doesn't even get the slightest bit messy. He must have some very powerful hair gel and anti-perspirant. It's hard to see some of the action sequences because of poor lighting and cinematography, although there are some action scenes that are suspenseful and exciting as long as you suspend your disbelief. Some scenes, like one toward the end with two characters talking on a rooftop, last too long and make the pacing feel uneven. The twists can be seen from a mile away, so don't expect anything that's surprising or groundbreaking.

      There are failed attempts to ground the film in humanism, like by showing scenes of Mike with his wife, Leah (Piper Perabo), but they're clunky and contrived moments that are, fortunately, ephemeral. The same can be said about the expositional scenes which the screenwriters don't quite have a knack of handling in an organic way. If you can feel the wheels of the screenplay turning during those scenes and you're fully aware that they're exposition, then they're not very effective. Filmmaker Avi Nesher once told me in an interview that a way to cleverly hide exposition is to have the character giving the exposition while doing something else, i.e. cooking, at the same time. Many screenwriters can learn a lot from heeding Nesher's words of wisdom.

      Danny Huston, Gerard Butler and Tim Blake Nelson provide plenty of charisma on screen and are very well cast. They make the most out of the shallow dialogue that they're given. There's also just enough moments of comic relief some of which are very funny and even witty, so it's worth noting that Angel Has Fallen doesn't take itself too seriously. A mid-credits scene is outrageously funny albeit very random and bizarre. At a running time of a slightly overlong 114 minutes, Angel Has Fall is a rousing white-knuckle thriller that's a rush of pure adrenaline. It's a satisfying slice of mindless entertainment.

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Lionsgate.
Opens nationwide.


Directed by Alex Kendrick


Number of times I checked my watch: 5
Released by Affirm Films.
Opens nationwide.


Directed by Richard Bates Jr.


Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Saban Films.
Opens at Cinema Village.
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