Before the screening for this started my friend said he saw an interesting fact regarding the film. It’s the only trilogy in movie history that had each film released by a different studio. And as we talked about how bad many Gerard Butler movies are (well, I did; he seemed to like them), he said, “He’s the king of the August releases.”
I hated the first of these two movies, so I went into this with low expectations. They were met.
This ties with Shaw & Hobbs as being the most ludicrous action picture of the year. Every step of this you can see coming, and there wasn’t a cliche they didn’t hit. Now, that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few fun set pieces and action sequences. I thought the drone attack on the President was interesting and intense.
Gerard Butler again plays Mike Banning, and he’s a Secret Service agent who is assigned to protect President Trumbull (and it sounds like “President Trump” every time his name is said; or when someone says they need to “make America strong again.”).
Morgan Freeman is taking an easy paycheck with this goofy action picture, as he spends most of his time in a coma (that’s not really a spoiler alert, as everyone knows the premise involves the President being involved in an assassination attempt).
Banning is wrestling with the decision to take a desk job as the director of the Secret Service, but it seems like the perfect move. He’s suffering migraines from all the concussions he’s gotten on the job. When the doctor asked what he did for a living, he replies, “Computer sales.”
Yeah, that’s the level of humor the film has.
Just like in The Fugitive, he is framed for the assassination attempt (which killed 12 agents). And like The Fugitive, when he’s captured, and handcuffed, something happens that helps him escape. And just like The Fugitive, someone will fire a gun by a person’s ear. And just like The Fugitive, some of the authorities start to think Banning might have been framed (I was just wondering why they were so quick to assume his guilt).
I was waiting for the head FBI agent (Jada Pinkett Smith), to say that she was going to search every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse in that area. Instead, it’s just a few truckers that recognize him on the pay phone at a gas station (as if places still have pay phones).
Really though, there are probably 25 other movies that used the same things this film does, so I’m not sure why I just kept thinking of The Fugitive.
None of the side characters are of interest. There’s a military comrade named Wade Jennings (Danny Huston), who shares stories about what a great guy Banning is with his wife, over steaks and wine.
The Vice President is played by Tim Blake Nelson, who was so great in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and O Brother, Where Art Thou? He’s not really given a lot to do but act shocked that the President might die, and demand that we start bombing the Russians for doing all of this.
Estranged dad Clay, a grizzled Vietnam Vet, shows up for the fun. He’s played by Nick Nolte, and he’s sporting a David Letterman beard (which makes him look crazier than Nolte’s old mug shot). At least that character made me think of the alcoholic father he played in the underrated The Warrior.
My friend brought up the fact that he would’ve preferred just one twist in the movie. I’m guessing one of the three screenwriters involved, probably thought they did that. The problem is you know from the beginning who is behind all of this.
Snitch’s Ric Roman Waugh directed this mess, and since he’s a former stuntman, he at least did the action sequences well. It’s just so by-the-numbers.
Action fans won’t be disappointed. Anybody over the age of 15, probably will be.
And please, stop with the shaky-cam. It’s annoying, and adds nothing.
1 ½ stars out of 5.