There is an art to being an action star; it’s something only few can do; fewer still convincingly. Therein lies today’s topic I want to talk about what makes a convincing action star, and how all that can and will change over time. When you imagine an action hero, you imagine a tough person in the prime of their life, ready and able to do whatever it takes to save the day. Keanu Reeves is believable in John Wick because he trains incredibly hard and has excellent stunt coordination. The is true of Sigourney Weaver in Aliens as well; she is a believable badass, due to a well-developed character and great set pieces/ stunt work. This brings us to the meat of what I want to talk about today the recently released blockbuster Angel Has Fallen.
Angel Has Fallen is the third film in the Fallen series, carrying on from the events of Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen. The third film focuses on Mike Banning, (Gerard Butler), as he faces off against the Government when he is framed for murder. A big part of the film focuses on the effect being a Secret Service agent is having on Mikes health, as he is not the man he used to be anymore. Despite that being a theme, the action in this film comes off as some of the laziest and most uninspired of recent history. I understand from a plot perspective Mike can’t be doing the same things he was doing in the first film, but other than some shooting and running he doesn’t really do all that much.
Maybe I have been spoiled with well planned out, well-executed action movies like this year’s John Wick, but in any case, I don’t see a reason to release an action movie, when it is clear that no one really cares, cookie-cutter in the extreme might as well be this films tagline.
What makes this all the more troubling is Gerard Butler himself. There was a time at the start of the 2000s where Butler’s name was being said in the same breath as Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger when it came to action stars; this was mainly due to the release of 300, which catapulted Butler into action superstardom. Cut to now, and the performance he gives in Angel Has Fallen is one of tiredness, it is clear he doesn’t want to be there anymore; crucially he isn’t believable as the character in this film. I know Butler can do better than this, he proved he can still be a viable and menacing action star in last year’s Den of Thieves. However, none of what made his performance good in that film is carried over.
To conclude, I think the Fallen series needs to be taken out back and shot; it is the merciful thing to do. We are a long way from the heights of the first film and, the longer it goes on, the more unbelievable Butler becomes as an action star, which is a shame. My final thought is that Butler needs to think carefully about the roles he picks, focusing more on films like Machine Gun Preacher and Law Abiding Citizen, where he shone through as a relatable action star.
What’s more, for the love of all of us when Fallen 4 comes a-knocking, Gerard, don’t answer.
Reviewed by Luke