2 September 2019

Expectations Have Fallen

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Before I saw Angel Has Fallen there was an advert on the radio which claimed that “it's the best of the Fallen trilogy” and “it's the film that's causing critics to go wild”. Now that first boast is the total definition of 'damning with faint praise' considering that the first two instalments of the Fallen trilogy were actual dog shit. The script for the first movie was so bad that lead star Gerard Butler's mates were apparently texting him in lines for it whilst the second movie managed to lower that bar even further by adding a little racism into the mix. Both movies were an irony and joke-free remake of Team America but in which the main characters were somehow even more convincing as dummies. I'm aware that technically the puppets in Team America were marionettes rather than dummies and that nobody has used the word dummy as an insult since about 1950. But in the words of Gerard Butler's Mike Banning, 'let's have a game of fuck off... you go first'. Saying that Angel Has Fallen is the best of the trilogy is like going to a restaurant and having the head chef claim that your food has less shit in it than an unflushed toilet. Technically that's true of a meal with no shit in it but it certainly makes it sound like he's pinched at least a little something off into it. In terms of the second boast, saying that the film is “causing critics to go wild”, is also interestingly worded. If critics loved it then wouldn't the advert just say, “the film that's loved by critics”? Because when I picture people going wild I don't imagine them to be having fun. I imagine them running down the street with their balls out after they've bitten a tramp in the face and are being shot at by the fucking police.

I was so confident that I'd hate Angel Has Fallen that I was downing fucking cups of tea beforehand with the hope that holding in a piss and occasionally taking a toilet trip would break it's running time up quite nicely for me. And yet... what I witnessed instead was an actual honest to God miracle. I obviously can't fully explain it but somehow Angel Has Fallen is not the total bag of wank that I was expecting. In fact, it was quite good. Like actually good. It's not going to change the world and in a genre of John Wicks and Mission: Impossibles, it's distinctly quite average. But I really enjoyed it and I did not imagine that I'd ever think that about a film in this franchise. Pretend that you're walking the green mile towards your execution on the electric chair and then somehow walking out all refreshed afterwards having found out that it was nothing more than a massage chair. Would it be an exaggeration to say I felt like that after this film? Probably. But it was certainly a pleasant surprise! The film begins with Butler's Mike Banning having to protect Morgan Freeman's President Trumball from a drone attack before finding himself set-up as the mastermind behind it. But wasn't Aaron Eckhart the president in this series I hear you ask? Well, I thought so too but he's literally not mentioned here at all. I guess you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become completely fucking forgotten. 

But couldn't Morgan Freeman's President simply tell the world that Gerard Butler didn't try to assassinate him considering how much they seem to trust each other? Well, no, because the attack leaves the President in a coma meaning that Freeman spends the majority of the film in bed and asleep. As with the previous two instalments of this franchise I'm still not entirely convinced that Freeman is even aware that he's in this fucking movie and I maintain that he has somehow been Bowfingered in against his knowledge. Well, it's either that or since he was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment that the crew will now only work with him if he's unconscious and surrounded by armed guards. But as a result, I suppose that you could say that Angel Has Fallen is Gerard Butler's North By Northwest in that he's a framed man on the run and determined to prove his innocence as the world chases him down. It's just a shame that when it comes to being a respected thespian, Gerard Butler is about as good at acting as Twitter is at facilitating a controlled debate. They always just descend into shouting, and afterwards you feel like you probably wasted your precious fucking time on them. Until now of course, because Butler is also really good in this movie. Like, what the fuck? Who'd have thought it? Ultimately the bad guy's plan is quite dumb but even at the film's sillier moments I was completely invested because of how grounded and believable Butler was. I guess that now we have Trump as the real world President my standards for what is convincingly real have significantly fucking lowered.

In the last movie, there was a moment in which a Scottish character turned up and you could see Butlers head on the verge of imploding as he attempted to maintain the American voice he was putting on. But here his accent is consistent throughout with his sounding even more believable than Nick Nolte's actual genuine one at times. Nolte turns up about mid-way through the movie as Butler's estranged father having abandoned him as a child to live alone in a forest. I guess if you father Gerard Butler then it's only logical to assume that you're a troll and simply wander off to live in a fucking fairytale setting. Nolte's character is meant to be an anti-government Vietnam war veteran that's gone a little mad over the years but looking at Nolte's typically dishevelled appearance it's quite possible that he's possibly just a fucking gnome. Imagine Rambo crossed with Bill Oddie and that's basically what he is I guess. Luckily for Butler, his father has rigged his entire forest up with a shit load of bombs that will help protect them from the forces on their trail. It's a really funny scene too when it all kicks off. But as the entire forest explodes around them Nolte seemed less like a traumatised veteran and more like The Holy Grail's Tim the Enchanter. His fucking strange voice has also become even more exaggerated over the years to the point that whenever he opened his mouth it sounded exactly like somebody had stuck their thumb up a cats arse. As Butler began to talk back to Nolte with his iconically booming voice, I wasn't sure if they were having a conversation or if I was listening to some fucking weird experimental track from Hans Zimmer. 

Despite the obvious dumbness of this explodey forest scene, I'd be lying too if I said that I didn't enjoy it having found those characters' dynamic to be quite touching. One of the obvious inspirations for this movie is Logan with Butler's character depicted as being a significantly more broken man. Considering that Butler is a Scotsman that his already lived past his nation's natural life expectancy of thirty-two years old, this also seemed perfectly plausible to me. The biggest difference, of course, is that in Logan they followed through on the concept of their damaged hero whereas here we're told that Butler might need to be more careful with there being almost zero consequence when he's not. Sure he might take a second longer to catch his breath than he used to but by the third act, he's being bounced around the room by explosions as though he's in a fucking pinball machine. That's one of the few action scenes that we can actually see too with a lot of them being fast cut, close-up, and usually in the dark. But I definitely thought that the first two films would be improved if I watched them with my eyes closed so I can hardly complain now that that's basically what they're like. I think that Sicario is also one of the key inspirations for this in its attempt at building tension with thumping music. It was pretty effective too, although the suspense was probably also helped by the constant worry that the film would fuck up and resort to the shite that I'd been expecting it to be. 

Of course, I'm not claiming that Angel Has Fallen is even close to being as good as Logan or Sicario but it's certainly an improvement over the flag-wanking bullshit of the first two. For me, this series has gone from being about as fun as hammering a nail into my bollocks to being the kind of movie that wouldn't cause me to spit at the TV screen if it randomly came on. I'm aware that I'm in the minority and that despite that advert claiming that critics are going wild, the reviews have been pretty terrible for this film. But I can only tell you how I felt and with both the unexpected grittiness and Butler's pretty decent performance, I was sold on it. Or maybe I'm just happy when I experience something that ended up being a lot less racist than I was expecting it to be. I'm pretty sure that I had a good time with this movie which is even though I'd secretly been hoping that Angel Has Fallen might be a stealth sequel to Hot Fuzz. I suppose though that the truth might simply be that it was a mediocre movie in which my expectations had initially been so low that I'd have been impressed by them simply remembering to turn the fucking camera on. I did have an enjoyable time with it though so I'll let you tell me if it's actually any good or if a better title for it would simply have been Expectations Have Fallen. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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