American has fallen so many times of late it needs a frame. That’s not a sneaky satirical dig at the current presidency… Although… Nope! let’s no open that door. It’s a comment on the number of “Presploitation” films we’ve seen recently in which the country has purportedly gotten itself into a situation where it needs to get up.
AHF is introduced with a quick snap cut montage of rioting, uprising nations & inspiring speeches by leaders accompanied by a voice over that wouldn’t be out of place in a conspiracy theory video. One of those put on YouTube by a tin foil hat wearing citizen who deems all media to be lies & the leaders of the free world are reptilians exploiting them for…. Anyway… You get the picture if you’ve witnessed one & if you haven’t, consider yourself lucky. In this situation though it works well as an introduction to the big bad Mikel Razanov (Phillip Lewis) a mask wearing cheerleader of Bin Laden… Osama Bin Laden. This stylistic introduction is inter cut with bomb making & a fella seemingly getting lucky on a bus, you figure out where this is all going quite quickly if you’ve followed the onscreen clues and know a little about modern bomb manufacturing (hint… they can be set off by mobile phones).
Instead of getting lucky, the gentleman caller Ryan Taylor (Tom Getty – also director, writer & probably theme tune singer of the film) finds himself responsible for the deaths of a number of American citizens. Quickly homeland security is on the case with a dozen specially trained agents after him and the story unravels, flips, flops and twists itself into an unbelievable & silly but stupidly entertaining little story or betrayal, redemption & honour. Tom Gettys disgraced ex-marine turned hero performance is fine if a little out of place at times, the 1000 mile stare of someone who has seen the things he’s seen sometimes just looks like he’s a deer in headlights. Phillip Lewis sometimes steers into a Bane impression as Razanov but is hateable, although a “reveal” of him sans mask is done early and then never really expanded upon or re-used which feels like a waste & the agents are… There to push the story along, none of them are really remarkable but do their job.
It’s obviously hard not to compare this to other films in the genre like “Olympus Has fallen” & “White House down”, not least because of it’s name, which turns out changed from “Rising Fear” to “America has fallen” likely to do just that. It’s definitely not similar in budget though, and the special effects and acting aren’t anywhere near the same level. Not that this lack of cash input stops the film from trying to keep up with it’s big budget brothers. Fast paced car chases and cities being brought to the ground seemingly every 5 minutes & some of the time it looks ok. The post production team has obviously worked their butts off to get it looking as realistic as possible, but with the amount of effects thrown in that’s not possible and sometimes with the amount going on around obviously oblivious actors, some look out of extremely place.
America Has Fallen is not perfect by a long way, given more of a budget and talent it may have been “Olympus has fallen” and indeed given the choice of the two films you may well just opt for the bigger budget option, but this is a patriotic attempt that aims high & grazes the target.