Still Falling

After saving the White House and London, Mike Banning does something most action heroes never do: he sees a doctor. Turns out the shooting and explosions take their toll. Banning’s vertebrae barely hold up his neck, concussions symptoms happen frequently, and pain killers keep him going. Then things start blowing up and adrenaline wipes this sub-plot out.

Angel Has Fallen, like the two predecessors, is absolutely ludicrous. The issue with this series is how no one wants to acknowledge absurdity. All the phony visual effects, wonky computer hacking, and tiresome shoot-outs erode credibility. This while a story desperately tries to tie everything to contemporary politics.

Banning (Gerard Butler) fights against accusations that he worked with Russia to assassinate anti-war President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). Tim Blake Nelson plays the war-mongering Vice President (with more than a passing resemblance to real world US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, intentional or not). In the middle is a dialog about military contractors, although it’s mostly patriotic chest puffing. “It’s not the same fighting for money than fighting for your flag,” spouts an advisor sitting in the Oval Office, choosing to ignore the financial incentives offered by government recruiters.

There is no center to something like Angel Has Fallen

Each story beat is known in the opening act; the set-up draws only a few characters capable of setting up a drone strike on the President. Angel Has Fallen’s anti-contractor theme solidifies the obvious. Butler is stuck in a script that’s more direct-to-video than theatrical. The non-US location shooting only adds to the budget skimping.

Anything interesting happens away from the action. Nick Nolte plays Banning’s off-the-grid father, a veteran with deep-seated government hatred. That creates a back and forth, with the Banning kin nearing retirement, caught between a sense of duty and the toll this takes on his body. He doesn’t want to become his ailing, resentful father. Then things start exploding again.

Adding dramatic stakes, Piper Perabo plays Banning’s wife. As with most masculine-driven action cinema, she’s little more than a prop. In the end, Angel Has Fallen becomes a man show, the hero and villain fighting near an exploded helicopter, because no action movie can pass without at least one chopper going boom. That brawl becomes raw Americana, where the lawful, dedicated Secret Service agent takes on the privatized militarist seeking more war. One is shown as absolute right, the other unmercifully wrong. There is no center to something like Angel Has Fallen, so maybe it’s a movie that understands modern politics better than most.

Video

Using extensive handheld work, the output turns exceptionally noisy. Shadows becomes infested with digital artifacts, swarming the screen. Low light is nightmarish to this transfer.

Other than softer focus in spots, Angel Has Fallen excels at 4K. Sharpness hits a pleasing extreme, bringing facial detail in droves. Exteriors tighten, always firm. Clarity makes the dismal digital effects stand out more so than they would elsewhere. Shot at 3.4k and then finished at 4K, Angel Has Fallen doesn’t always look it, but at its peaks, serves as a standout.

Even when noise injects itself, the Dolby Vision pass adds life. During a nighttime truck chase, mostly pure black backgrounds collide with hefty headlights. That looks great. Fireballs reach potent, piercing brightness. Overall black levels grant this disc dimension.

Color grading aggressively shifts between scenes, cooler or warmer. Flesh tones generally maintain their consistency, with nice primaries where allowed.

Audio

Right at Angel Has Fallen’s outset, a helicopter tracks overhead. That will happen with regularity. There’s a drone attack that spreads the soundstage in each direction, paying close attention to Atmos effects. Voices and gunfire pan around with seamless accuracy. Shoot-outs create marvelous sonic depth. In positional terms, Angel Has Fallen brings A-tier work.

Range is a little small, peaking during a forest blast. The truck chase delivers some beefy low-end punch too as a trailer tips over. Gunshots have their kick intact. The deepest lows never get going though, a touch off from reference.

Extras

Gerard Butler introduces the disc, saying how in-depth things will get. He lies. The six featurettes struggle to conquer their EPK feel, even with an hour total to play with. The longest is on casting at 18-minutes. A trio of breakdowns on action scenes run a little over eight minutes, somewhat more interesting than the rest of these bonuses.

Angel Has Fallen
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Somehow the third movie in this series, Angel Has Fallen isn’t any better than its equally dopey predecessors.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 32 full resolution 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: