America Has Fallen is one of those films that needed some vital elements — money, better actors and another couple of whacks at the script. Lacking those critical elements results in a half-baked action film that can’t even rate guilty pleasure status.
Tom Getty pulls triple duty as the film’s director/writer and star. There’s a consistent level of mediocrity Getty achieves in all aspects. Unfortunately, his weakest role is the one in front of the camera.
After a bus flirting session, Ryan Taylor (Getty) decides to give his new acquaintance a call, which triggers an explosion in the heart of Pittsburgh’s downtown district. Mikel Razanov (Philip Lewis), a terrorist with a disfigured face and cool Darth Vader-like voice distortion mask threatens this is only the beginning.
Keep in mind a pivotal plot point here is the terrorists are counting on Ryan to be so extremely desperate that he’d call a woman hours after getting her number. And then repeatedly calling it so the feds could track his phone. Taylor manages to escape custody and begins a tension-less effort to clear his name and find the ones responsible.
Getty lacks the presence, charisma or the x-factor to play an action hero. His line delivery is flat and his performance often comes across like an actor reading the lines for the first time on set. While watching the film, I wondered why the director thought Getty could carry the film until I realized they were the same person.
Curtis Caldwell, who plays the Tommy Lee Jones pursuer to Getty’s Harrison Ford, actually seems better suited to play the lead. He gives a more credible performance even if he overacts occasionally.
Getty seems to be influenced by films like Olympus Has Fallen and The Fugitive with a healthy sprinkling of the TV series 24. As far as inspirations go for a political action film, those are pretty good. But it doesn’t appear that Getty paid too close attention to what made those click beyond the shootouts and hero on the run premise. Like having the disgraced hero grab a hat, hoodie or sunglasses to hide their identity.
My friends and I have a saying you can’t do Vegas on a budget. That motto works pretty well with action movies too. Imdb.com lists the budget as $6,000. By the looks of the effects, lighting and acting talent, that estimate seems about right. If that is the case, Getty actually deserves a lot of credit. The shoelace budget is apparent, but Getty shows a lot of creativity in working through his financial limitations.
Looking at America Has Fallen as more of a blockbuster audition, Getty could probably make a passable guilty pleasure with more money and better actors. I could see Gerard Butler starring in a big budget version of this film. But this is not that version.
Getty has to keep the camera tight on the actors and resort to rapid fire edits. I timed one scene and the camera regularly cut to different perspectives every three to four seconds.
Camera perspectives could be excused away as stylistic choices. Where America Has Fallen truly stumbles is the shoddy looking action sequences, which look like mid-level YouTube fan made productions. Explosions, debris and an attack helicopter look like starter-CGI kit work.
The Fugitive style chase scenes require some fudging to look decent, but the larger scale action scenes completely took me out of the movie. They look terrible. It’s one thing to have awful special effects, but to hope the viewers don’t notice it seems naive. The random use of stock footage and news clips of riots and demonstrations seems wildly out of place and hardly connected to the film.
Getty’s script doesn’t turn the tide either with characters making dumb decisions and a confusing conspiracy.
Curiously, it’s been packaged several ways with titles including The Patriot and Rising Fear. Regardless of the title, this isn’t worth checking out even for B-movie aficionados.
Rating: 3 out of 10
Photo Credit: High Octane Pictures