3 Stars – Challenging
What ever happened to the days of patriotic songs and movies that galvanized the American spirit to “stop the enemy” from invading our shores? In too many ways, that nostalgic notion has passed into a bygone era. Angel Has Fallen is a rude awakening that those days are over!
In this dark, adrenalin-stimulating, action story, we are confronted with an evil takeover of the United States government. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is a Secret Service Agent assigned to protect U.S. President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). The President has asked to take a private fishing trip and a large contingent of Agents secretly escort him out of Washington DC to give him some breathing room from the stuffiness of the halls of politics. He chooses Mike Banning to be his constant companion and guard.
What happens next is an unparalleled attack on the President with high-tech weapons of war. Swooping down to the river from the skies, hundreds of drones assassinate the entire contingent of Secret Service Agents and leave the President critically wounded. The only person who escapes is Agent Mike Banning, who is now suspected of masterminding the entire event.
Without giving away the plot, the film centers on learning who the real players are in this attempt to take over the government and whether Mike Banning is part of the attack or not. From the perspective of an intense and compelling drama, this one will keep you on the edge of your seat. In terms of the values underlying the story, it is a challenging question as to what it means to “stop all enemies, foreign and domestic.” What is a “domestic enemy” is questionable in the minds of many Americans. When, if ever, is violence against your own government justified?
Much of the reasoning behind the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which allows citizens to be able to own guns and “form a well-regulated militia” is due to the mistrust of governing bodies – whether they were the kings of the 18th century or our democratic republic of the 21st. A significant number of Americans today fear our own government, whether justified or paranoid. The moral question is not easily answered. Who gets to decide? When does the system reach such a breaking point that violence is considered a just option? What if a small group of fervent believers decide that the ends justify the means? What if it is just for personal gain?
Angel Has Fallen also brings into focus the ever-increasing and invasive reality that technology today can see into almost every aspect of our lives. It can also hunt us down like a real-life video game. There is little privacy left in our lives and the protection we receive from the legal agreements we make are only given power in a consensus of trust. Once that trust is deeply broken, then fear takes over. The only counterbalance is a social and spiritual contract that ties us together in a binding co-commitment to love, protect, and respect one another without conditions attached. The real question is, how committed are we to build that trust each day?
1. The third film in the Fallen film series, following Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016) the basic theme is the same. Why do you think this fear of insurgency has been chosen by these artists? Do have a fear of a coup of our government?
2. The inclusion of Banning’s father Clay (Nick Nolte) allows the film to explore what government does to both its soldiers and its agents. Do you find his character helpful? Why do you answer as you do?
3. If trust is a requirement for a free society, do you think we are more trusting now than we have been in the past? Are you more trusting or less trusting?
4. When Wade Jennings (Danny Huston) explains that it is not the money but the excitement of the fight do you believe him? Why or why not?