Cast: Morgan Freeman, Gerard Butler, Danny Huston, Tim Blake Nelson, Lance Reddick, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Nick Nolte, Piper Perabo
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Genre: Action, Drama
Running Time: 121 minutes
Synopsis: When there is an assassination attempt on U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), his trusted confidant, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), is wrongfully accused and taken into custody. After escaping from capture, he becomes a man on the run and must evade his own agency and outsmart the FBI in order to find the real threat to the President. Desperate to uncover the truth, Banning turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name, keep his family from harm and save the country from imminent danger.
Angel Has Fallen
Release Date: August 22nd, 2019
"It's our moments of struggle that define us" -President Trumbull
Gerard Butler reveals a whole new side to one of his signature roles--Secret Service agent Mike Banning- in this explosive, rip-roaring thriller in which the fate of the nation rests on the very man accused of attempting to assassinate the President of the United States.
Banning has long been one of the stalwart heroes-in-the-shadows on whom national security depends on day in and day out, but is the always-ready warrior starting to lose it? Haunted by a lifetime soaked in adrenaline, danger and more than a few insane snafus, Mike feels his usually knifelike edge slipping. The uncertain becomes the unthinkable as he wakes up to his worst possible nightmare: the President has fallen and Banning stands accused of conspiring to kill his friend, mentor and the man he's sworn to protect.
Now the expert hunter has become the hunted, spurring Butler's deepest, darkest take yet on the loosecannon action hero.
On the run and with no one but his family on his side, Banning may not be able to pull himself back from the brink. But he will put his patriotism above his own as he stops at absolutely nothing to save the country that he's alleged to have betrayed.
As Banning maneuvers to evade his savvy colleagues, every quality that made him the top agent on the presidential detail is put to the test: his high-level combat skills, his ability to out-think the most twisted minds and his willingness to put himself at extreme risk to pull others from harm – only that might just be the easy part, for Banning now faces a situation for which he has zero preparation. Forced into the cold, isolated from his family, in dire physical and mental peril, the only way he can go forward is to take an unwanted turn into his past.
The third installment in the Fallen series, Angel Has Fallen stands on its own as a psychologically tense, kinetic thriller that never lets off the accelerator from its opening killer-drone attack. It also adds a revealing new chapter to the legend of Mike Banning, as the hazards of his work collide into his private life, pushing him to explore how he became the man he is now.
"I was really excited to come back to the Fallen series," says Butler. "I was especially excited to do something fresh with the character and take things in a different direction. Mike Banning is known for his badassery, but also his humanity"and now we get to see a lot more of where he comes from. What's great is that while this movie gets much more personal, there's also more action than ever, so the ride is heightened on all levels. There's brutal, crazy, epic combat"but in the same breath, there's real drama and I think it's also the funniest of the films."
Adds director Ric Roman Waugh: "I never thought of Angel as a sequel. I see it as a fresh, cool installment of the franchise that can stand alone while bringing everything fans love about Mike Banning. What Gerry and I really wanted to do was to put you inside Banning's head as he goes from offense to defense, from proud warrior to fugitive, so that you get to see and feel everything he's going through. For fans, it's a chance to see what makes Banning tick, and for new audiences, I hope it's a discovery of a really relatable character surviving in an extraordinary situation. So, you still get a tremendous amount of action but with a whole new and fresh point of view."
Reteaming with Butler in Angel Has Fallen is Academy Award® winner Morgan Freeman, this time as President Trumbull (he's moved up, having been Speaker of the House and Vice President in the earlier films), whose life is on the line along with his trust in Banning. Joining the series is a roster including, Jada Pinkett Smith as FBI Agent Thompson, Lance Reddick as Secret Service Director Gentry, Tim Blake Nelson as Vice President Kirby, Piper Perabo as Banning's wife Leah and in a surprise turn, Oscar® winner Nick Nolte as Banning's estranged father, a reclusive Vietnam vet who becomes his unlikely partner on the lam. Butler notes it has always been Banning's everyday authenticity and down-to-earth humor that stands out against today's line-up of fantastical superheroes, but in this film, he is stripped down to his most human yet.
"I think part of Banning's appeal has been that he's such a real-life guy. He's someone trying to be a family man while dealing with the heavy emotional toll his work takes on him. People can really relate to that, but on the other hand, he's one of the toughest dudes you could ever hope to meet. He will never quit. That's how he sees himself"but that image is put to the test in this film in ways he'd rather it wasn't."
With his grit and loyalty under fire, Banning also comes face-to-face with the costs of the warrior's life as he tries to evade mounting signs of PTSD.
"In this chapter, you realize that this man you've seen go through all these firefights, explosions and crashes has paid a price," Butler explains. "Banning has been silently struggling in his work and at home, but he's keeping it all secret because he doesn't want to let people down and he wants to keep doing the job he loves and believes in. It's not the greatest timing for the whole nation to think he's a terrorist at large, to say the least. He's also very clear on that fact that, whatever his fate, the President is in grave danger and he is the only person left who can figure out where the threat is coming from."
Producer Les Weldon, who has been with the Fallen series from the start, loves that as Banning is put under crushing pressure, it gives Butler more room to dive deep. Weldon united with fellow producers Butler, Alan Siegel, Matt O'Toole, John Thompson, and Yariv Lerner to oversee the technically-intricate production. All were excited to see Butler bring a darker, harder edge to the beloved character while showing a new vulnerability"and keeping all the fun intact.
"From the beginning, Mike Banning has been almost an extension of Gerry. They're both dedicated, demanding guys, yet both have a really personable, emotional core," observes Weldon. "That comes out even more in Angel Has Fallen and I think audiences will really connect with him. It's very revealing to watch an incredible hero you've always seen chasing others, become the chased and desperate man."
Raising the Bar on the Fallen Series
Secret Service agents live in a constant state of high alert. At any given second, they have to be ready to thwart a near-infinite number of potential threats that could come from any country, any group, or any person, without warning. Their sacrifices"the persistent danger, the merciless demands on body and soul, the stress on their relationships"are rarely recognized publicly, but they don't do it for the recognition. They do it because they are driven to serve the highest office of the land and the bedrock of democracy.
That kind of devotion has always defined Mike Banning, though, he is also a man of contrasts. On the job, he is a cunning, dogged, laser-focused patriot, but he is also a self-questioning and at times a selfdeprecating man who has his dark corners of jagged regrets and frustrations. He has done and seen it all.
In Olympus Has Fallen, he rescued the First Family from a North Korean-led kidnapping inside the White House. In London Has Fallen, he kept President Asher from harm during a terrorist attack on world leaders attending the British Prime Minister's funeral.
For the first time in Angel Has Fallen, Banning is no longer sure if he can trust his own agency. He can't sleep, he can't get through the day without pain killers and even his doctor can see that he's heading at 100 mph for a brick wall. Then, the bottom drops out.
For Gerard Butler, this was exactly the way he wanted to see Banning"not idealized but rather as a portrait of a more life-sized man, a hardboiled warrior facing down his own doubts. It's also exactly where he wanted to see the franchise go next – inviting audiences into a ride as psychologically volatile as it is filled with wall-to-wall stunts and battles.
"I felt like it was really time for people to get to know more of Banning and who he is," Butler says. "He might be a trained killer, but there's always been an "everyman" aspect to Mike. So, in this film, even though there's a huge external struggle, we get to know a lot more about his internal struggles with his father, his wife and his own future – struggles we all have. It makes the stakes of the action that much higher because we're so inside his world."
It all starts with Banning being offered the prized job of Director of the Secret Service by President Trumbull. It's an incredible opportunity . . . but it's also just the kind of indoor job that makes Banning chafe. He's not at all sure he's ready to be a desk jockey. "Mike's wife Leah loves the idea of the director job," notes Butler. "She knows he'll be safer, but Mike still loves being on the frontlines. In a way it's heartbreaking because his dedication and courage are what motivated President Trumbull to offer him this really great, prominent job; yet to Mike, it feels a little like the end of who he is."
Knowing he wanted both more grit and more emotional depth, Butler searched for a director who could thread that needle. He found what he was searching for in Ric Roman Waugh, a former stunt performer seen in a long roster of 80s action classics, who came to the fore as a director with his taut, tense trilogy of prison thrillers: Felon, Snitch and Shot-Caller, Waugh had also directed That Which I Love Destroys Me, a documentary about Iraq war veterans dealing with traumatic stress disorders and the psychic wounds of war, which sealed the deal.
The first time Butler met with Waugh, the ideas started flowing freely and that process did not stop until the final print was locked. "Ric's intelligence and psychological approach to the story were phenomenal," Butler says. "Also, moviemaking is in his DNA. He's been a stunt man and a cameraman, but he also knows special effects and design, and he brings high enthusiasm for it all. The best part about Ric is that he pushes everyone around him, in part because he never stops being excited about what he's doing. We made an interesting team for Angel Has Fallen because he brought so much fresh perspective to the series from his experiences while I was always thinking about those elements of the franchise that I know fans really love. I think we found a great balance."
Waugh jumped right away at the idea of exploring Mike Banning not just in jeopardy but in a chaotic state of mind. He knew from making That Which I Love Destroys Me that a man like Banning would, like so many real-life warriors in the military and law enforcement worlds, have to pay the piper for the mental, physical and spiritual toll of his work.
"What I learned making the doc is that there are a lot of modern-day warriors who have a different kind of PTSD," explains the director. "It's not the classic shellshock where they are running away from war. Instead, they've become addicted to war, to the intensity of it, and that makes it harder for them to return to society and everyday life. We made the documentary about members of the military, but after it premiered, I started hearing from all kinds of other people, from first responders and law enforcement and more, talking about how they were going through the same thing. So, I felt from the beginning that this would be a very authentic and interesting journey to take with Mike Banning. He is, as he's told in the film, a lion, but there are consequences to always being a lion."
Early on, Waugh met with a man who is in many ways the real-life version of Mike Banning: the film's security advisor, Mickey Nelson, a 28-year veteran of the Secret Service who served under four presidents, most recently President Obama. Nelson confirmed that Secret Service agents wrestle the intoxicating effects of adrenaline. "Mickey talked openly about the rush you get from protecting the most important person in the country"and he also talked about getting to a point where you crave that intense vigilance all the time," says Waugh. "That's exactly what Mike is thinking about as he faces a desk job. It brings up this huge question for him: do I keep trying to be the person I was in my youth or do I find a way to embrace who I've become? It's something a lot of people go through in all walks of life."
While Waugh did not want to skirt the complexities Banning faces, he also brought deeply-felt respect for the job. "One of the things that was also important to me coming into this was really trying to show what it's like to be part of the Secret Service. So, that informed a lot of the filmmaking because I wanted to be in Mike's head the whole way, the way he is always trailing the president, always watching for that threat in the hidden corner and always feeling that sense of duty and honor."
He and Butler inspired each other. "There was instant chemistry with us," says Waugh. "Our collaboration just seemed to catch fire early on and we had such absolute trust in each other that it made things exciting every day." (The bond was so tight that Waugh and Butler are currently shooting the disaster epic Greenland together.)
Waugh continues: "What makes Gerry so perfect for Banning is that while he brings all the off-the-charts charisma and muscularity you want in an action hero, he is also a very gifted actor who's not afraid to examine the complexities of life and the human condition and bring those traits, even flaws, into his characters to make them feel grounded and real. That allows you to get close to him in a way that's different in this film, while you're still getting that action rush."
Butler loved Waugh's approach to the action. "Ric's style is all about putting you smack in the middle of the chaos," Butler explains. "He sucks you in with a gritty realism"so that even in the most insane scenarios, you feel you are right there in the moment with Banning."
Adds Les Weldon: "Ric is really great at building emotional terror at close quarters and he combines that with big-scale, beautifully directed set pieces that don't let up."
Morgan Freeman Takes the Presidency
He was Speaker of the House in Olympus Has Fallen and Vice President in London Has Fallen, but now, Morgan Freeman's President Trumbull has taken on the mantle"and all the hazards"of being Commanderin-Chief. Nearly assassinated and told his most trusted Secret Service agent is the prime suspect in the deadly attack, Trumbull faces a dilemma that could endanger not only his cherished friendship with Mike Banning but the future of the world.
Notes Butler: "In the earlier films, Trumbull already proved that he trusted Banning, and Banning has always felt a bond with Trumbull, beyond his duty to protect him. In this film, you see how much of a mentor Trumbull has become to Banning. They each look at the other as one of the few people they can talk to honestly. They can joke together, and they even rip on each other a little, respectfully, which is rare in Trumbull's life, and to me, Trumbull becomes the center of the movie because in a way, they are each other's lifeline if either one is going to survive."
"I love the relationship between Gerry and Morgan in this film," adds Waugh. "Morgan's President Trumbull is such a father-figure to Mike Banning and that is really put on the line. It brings out a lot of humanity in both their characters."
For Freeman, it was fun to climb the ladder to the presidency. "In this one, I'm elevated again. I'm the president, but that means I am now directly in harm's way," he muses.
He brought his own interpretation of what a great leader should be to the role. "I see Trumbull as an honorable, courageous man and a very good politician," Freeman describes. "But he's not really based on any historical president because the situation is so unique and the decisions he has to make haven't really had to be made by any President that we know of."
Freeman looked forward to finally having one-on-one scenes with Butler. "This is actually the first time Gerry and I have really worked together like this," Freeman notes. "In the other films, I've been in a safe bunker somewhere, or in DC while he was in London. Finally, we were able to work mano a mano, which was a true pleasure for me. What I love about his portrait of Banning is that he is clearly tough and ruthless but, at the same time, he brings a deep humanity to the role, which is a combination we seek in our heroes."
Butler, too, relished the collaboration. "It was one of my favorite things about the movie," he says. "Morgan brings an electric atmosphere when he's on set, and he gets total respect, even though he doesn't demand it. He's just easygoing and wants to joke with everybody. I loved working with him. And then he brings so much to President Trumbull. He has that mix of pathos, gravitas, and warmth, yet with a dash of roguishness that makes him a great leader and the kind of person to whom Mike can relate."
Butler notes that age was never a factor in Freeman's action scenes. "I don't think in Morgan's whole career he's ever done as much action," Butler muses. "I mean, we have him diving off boats, swimming in pools and running with bullets flying after him. Yet, he seemed to absolutely love it and was up to any challenge. He's 81 and there were times I thought, he's running faster than I am!"
Into the Woods: Nick Nolte as Clay Banning
Angel Has Fallen takes Mike Banning into his darkest hour"but also his hidden past. Things take a wild switchback into turbulent father-son territory when Banning looks for refuge in the last place on earth he ever thought he'd go: his long-estranged father's off-the-grid cabin. Here he has to confront a man he has never understood or had the chance to question: the Vietnam vet who walked out on him as a boy and retreated from his PTSD and paranoia into life as a lone survivalist in the woods.
Creating a sometimes comical, but always compelling, contrast with Butler's Mike Banning is the casting of Nick Nolte, known for his portraits of characters with tough hides but convoluted innards. Here, he brings a sense of frayed dignity to a man not quite sure if he's ready for redemption.
"There's a fascinating contrast between Mike and his dad because Mike is driven to keep running into war and his dad is still trying to run from it," notes Waugh. "What Nick brings is so much more than comic relief. His dynamic with Gerry is very tense and funny, but also very moving. There was a kind of magic that happened between them, and Nick is such a giving person that his passion inspired the entire crew, and me."
Butler greatly enjoyed the raw and original relationship that erupts between the two characters"both fiercely stubborn, uncompromising men who push all of each other's buttons. "All along, it's been a deep regret in Mike's life that he never really had a father, but now that he needs his father that means he also has to put up with him," laughs Butler. "He and Clay think they are cut from different cloth, but now that they're forced together, it allows them to see their connection. And Nick was so brilliantly weird and charismatic as Clay, he gave the relationship just the spark of intensity it needed."
Nolte came aboard because he loved the idea of putting such a damaged, complicated, razor-tongued character"one who reflects a reality for some veterans"in the middle of the hardcore action. "I was interested in the challenge of this role," Nolte explains, "and I was also drawn to working with Gerard. That turned out to be a bigger treat than I even imagined it would be because he really is at the top of his game right now."
To begin, Nolte thought a lot about why Clay, still shaken from Vietnam, walked out of society and away from his only son. "Like Mike, Clay came from a proud tradition of military discipline, but it left him in distress. After two tours in Vietnam, when he came home to his wife and child, he couldn't make it. It happened to a lot of good soldiers," Nolte points out. "You can't go easily from the extreme survival of war back to a normal life. Your brain gets rewired and that's what happened to Clay. He came back and felt he couldn't be a good father, so he cleared out. The way he sees it, his disappearing was the best thing that ever happened to Mike because Clay felt he had nothing to teach but violence and anger."
Once he saw the cabin set where Clay makes his home, Nolte got the internal picture of how Clay has penalized himself. "I think Clay wants to allow himself no creature comforts," he describes. "He wants the barest minimum he can possibly live with"one cup, one fork, one plate, one bed. Really there is no reason to even have a chair because he doesn't have any visitors, not until Mike shows up."
When Mike does show up, the mix of anger and affection, skepticism and understanding, defiance and need is incendiary. That first scene between Nolte and Butler had everyone on set mesmerised. "You could just feel the tension and that first spark of connection; it was very moving," recalls Weldon.
For Butler, Nolte's commitment to a man who has never learned to trust was a thing of beauty. "For someone to have been in the business this long and still bring that gorgeous, childlike energy where he's always excited about the scene and gives all he can is amazing. In that first scene at the cabin, you can feel so much going on inside Nick all at once: he's broken, grief-stricken, excited, questioning, wondering, fearful, judging, hoping and more. You can see Clay's whole life and struggles coming through in just the way Nick moves his face. As our characters grew closer, we also bonded in a big way."
Supporting the Fallen
Another character who comes to the fore in Angel Has Fallen is Banning's wife, Leah. She has always been one of Mike's biggest supporters and joys, but now as a new mother, she worries that Mike is retreating into private darkness that could lock her out. Stepping into the role of Leah is Golden Globe®-nominee, Piper Perabo. "Piper brings such a fresh spin to Leah," says Waugh. "Now that they have a daughter, there is a whole new dynamic between Leah and Mike – she has a vision of them moving forward in a way that will make them both happy."
What drew Perabo immediately to the project was Waugh's involvement. "I'd seen the documentary Ric made about servicemen trying to reintegrate back into civilian life," Perabo notes, "so, I knew he would bring that vital empathy and understanding to the heart of this movie."
Much as she understands what drives her husband, Leah can't hide her desire for Mike to take the director job that will see him still doing his patriotic duty"but safely seated within four walls. "I think most of all Leah just wants Mike to be home more," explains Perabo. "Their relationship is really healthy and they trust each other, but she just wants more time to have fun with him."
Though she was new to the role, Perabo found that a close-knit, playful rapport with Butler came organically. "I don't know if it's the Scottish in him, but Gerry has such an inviting rough and tumble charm," she describes. "He's very good at playing a man who tinges everything with humor, but when things aren't light with Mike, Leah knows something is about to explode. The relationship felt very real and that made the danger also feel very real."
Butler has long been a fan of Perabo. "I love how Piper so deeply respected and brought out the sacrifices the spouse of an agent has to go through. She encapsulated the strength, the humor, and the support but also the worry and the tensions. She's a great addition to the franchise."
Another key player in the film is Wade Jennings, a long-time buddy and military compatriot of Banning's, who in a time of peace has turned to the growing world of private military contractors. Played by Danny Huston, it is Wade who spurs doubts in Banning's mind after a training session that leaves him battered. Huston and Butler are good friends off-screen which helped seal their rapport as former brothers-inarms. "I loved getting to work with Gerry," says Huston. "And also, I found Wade a very interesting character. Wade has taken a different path from Mike. He sees himself as a ferocious lion who has been put in a cage and he doesn't really know how to interact with the world in a state of peace. He is a fish out of water who wants conflict, but with Mike, I think he finds the human contact he needs to feel alive. They both understand that power of adrenaline, even if they make different choices."
Once the chase begins, the cat to Banning's mouse is FBI Agent Thompson, played by Jada Pinkett Smith, the multi-talent recently seen in the hit comedy Girls Trip. "We didn't want another male agent," says Weldon. "We loved bringing in a strong actress to create a character who is really smart and tough as nails. She is the one leading the case and we needed someone who could capture that kind of determination. Jada is a great actress and she makes you root for her character."
Smith enjoyed that she is the one in pursuit. "Agent Thompson a great character; she's intense, serious and a straight-shooter, but she's also wily enough to keep up with Banning," she muses. "Of course, she's under the biggest pressure of her life to bring in the suspect wanted for trying to assassinate the President of the United States."
Although Agent Thompson is frequently exasperated by Banning, Smith loved having the chance to watch Butler at work. "It was a joy to watch him tackle this role with so much depth and then there is that great chemistry between Gerry and Morgan, which was the most beautiful thing," she says.
As President Trumbull fights for his life, it is Vice President Kirby who steps into a delicate leadership situation just as the country is on the brink of war. Playing Kirby is Tim Blake Nelson, best known for his comic work with the Coen Brothers, most recently as the Singing Cowboy in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Everyone loved watching Nelson embrace a whole different kind of role. "Tim was just amazing," says Butler. "He's so smart and funny, but he also has this sincerity that was perfect for Kirby." "I was surprised that I was even offered this role, as I usually play characters who are, shall we say, a bit more extreme, but I love the Fallen movies and I really appreciated the challenge of portraying a VP under pressure, so, there was no way I was going to turn it down."
Nelson also had a blast in his first outing with Morgan Freeman. "In many respects, Morgan is himself like a president," Nelson observes. "He just exudes wisdom, intelligence, and warmth and you want to follow wherever he's headed."
Drones, Trucks and Bullets Falling
To lock Mike Banning into a chaotic world of ceaseless jeopardy, Waugh turned to a crack behind-thescenes team. The bottom line for all could be summed up in one word: groundedness, "I like to capture how people really move in a fight or a chase, what it really sounds like and the visceral feel of it," explains Waugh. "The idea was to immerse people completely into Banning's POV of every moment." The team included director of photography, Jules O'Loughlin, production designer, Russell De Rozario, costume designer, Stephanie Collie, editor, Gabriel Fleming and composer, David Buckley, who created a score that swerves from propulsive to intimate.
Overseeing the scorching action were prolific stunt coordinator, Greg Powell, and legendary action unit director, Vic Armstrong, who previously worked with Waugh as a stuntman. "Greg and Vic have done nearly every big movie known to man," muses Butler, "and we needed that kind of experience because we wanted to put in as many epic sequences as we could possibly fit. That's exactly what they accomplished. Olympus and London each had about 13 action sequences. Here we've upped that to 23 sequences, which is a lot. It never stops. And they worked to make sure the audience feels every bump and explosion."
Says Armstrong: "On Angel Has Fallen, we took everything bigger and faster in every moment: we have fast boats, fast trucks, fast drones, and huge explosions. The audience is going to love it."
The film kicks off with one of its most heart-pounding sequences as a swarm of AI-driven drones turns President Trumbull's contemplative fishing retreat into all-out war. Shooting the scene at England's Virginia Water, a man-made lake and favorite vacation spot of British Royals since the 18th Century, the team took things as far as they could go. "I've done a few water sequences in the past, including a James Bond chase down the River Thames. They are always challenging, and this was especially challenging because we were working on a lake the Queen owns," laughs Armstrong. "But our aim was to overcome all the logistics to create a scene that keeps you on edge every second."
Waugh looked to leading-edge technology to forge the autonomous, pneumatically-launched drones that can track their targets like sentient creatures. "I knew from my Special Ops friends that there is new drone technology a lot like this," Waugh says. "It's just incredible. These drones can work as a swarm to find and target an enemy. Of course, it's all military secrets, so we designed our own, but everything you see in the film is based on real tech."
Adds production designer De Rozario: "We did a lot of research into how robotic drones with AI capabilities work. Our drones are bat-like structures that have a lot of agility and also have face recognition built into them. The way they fly and swoop, they have a deadly beauty to them."
In one of the film's most harrowing chases, Banning finds himself in a speeding semi on a dark mountain road pursued by police and helicopters, with no obvious escape route. It's one of Waugh's favorite scenes. "I wanted something that would feel super grounded and real but also put you inside Banning's head as he's trying to escape while inflicting as little damage as he can. We put in almost documentarylike details to create what's an incredible gauntlet run."
Adds Armstrong: "That was a really crazy chase because we were filming in a dark forest with no external lights, apart from the vehicles headlights and the helicopter searchlight, but it was great fun and I love what we captured."
While everyone was bringing their most ambitious ideas, Armstrong says the action works mainly because Butler brings so much veracity to everything Banning does, from dodging bullets to hand-to-hand combat to commandeering President Trumbull through explosions. That's what brings the believability. "Gerry is a different kind of action hero," Armstrong observes. "He's not Dwayne Johnson or Schwarzenegger. He is more an ordinary guy who finds extraordinary toughness in these very real situations. He's driven by grit and determination as much as anything"and no matter how big the sequence, that idea was always the core of the action."
Powell notes that no move happens on-screen without Butler weighing in. "Gerry is extremely involved all the way through and in every aspect," Powell explains. "He loves the action and he brings a lot of creative ideas. It was great for me and Vic because the input just increases our ability to create fun scenes that audiences aren't expecting."
Fugitive on the Run: The Design
As Mike Banning becomes a fugitive on the run, the production needed sets that could flow seamlessly through a real-time chase that never lets up. To undertake the design, the team turned to production designer De Rozario, who has shown his flair on such films as The Hitman's Bodyguard and the Kick-Ass series.
With Banning back in Washington D.C., De Rozario enjoyed the chanced to bring his own once over to the familiar environs of the Oval Office. "Our security advisor, Mickey Nelson, was a massive mine of information on the White House," notes De Rozario. "Our Oval Office colors are quite different to the ones you've seen before"but we learned that each president gets to pick the colors they want, so we figured President Trumbull would have really great taste and made the Oval more dynamic than you've seen it." With the shoot taking place largely in the UK and Bulgaria, De Rozario got creative for many of his sets. For example, he used bunkers at the former U.S. Air Force base at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire to create Salient Security's training facility where Banning goes through a terrifying simulation in the opening moments of the film.
At Bulgaria's Nu-Boyana studios, De Rozario created from scratch one of his favorite sets: Clay Banning's self-sustaining cabin. "For the cabin, we wanted to reflect Clay's state of mind," explains the designer. "He's a bit chipped and bruised as a Vietnam vet who feels let down by the establishment. Yet, he still cares very much about his country and he still has the clarity and focus of a soldier. So, his place is not what you might expect. It's quite well thought out, while very cleverly remaining off the grid."
Other keys locations include the vast Vertigo Business Tower in Sofia, Bulgaria"a stunning work of modern architecture, which resembles a giant polished diamond"and Guy's Hospital in London which stands in for the D.C. hospital where President Trumbull and Banning are airlifted after the drone attack. "Guy's has a layout that really flows," notes De Rozario, "and that was really important to how Ric wanted to shoot it. We loved that Guy's has this really fluid, beautiful banking that is a bit reminiscent of the motion of the drones that try to kill Trumbull so, we emphasised that. We just wanted to make this mad roller-coaster ride as visceral as possible at every turn."
As visceral as the action and design are, Waugh and Butler, hope it all serves to open up a window into Banning's soul that resonates beyond the thrills.
Sums up Waugh: "I'm a big fan of what this franchise has already done so it's been a huge honor to be part of taking it somewhere new, to give it a new depth for the fans and a new spin so that folks coming to the franchise for the first time can jump right into it. We put in all the fun and thrills you'd expect from a Mike Banning story, but I hope you also take away something more."
Angel Has Fallen
Release Date: August 22nd, 2019