Angel Has Fallen's Explosive Ending, Explained

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Angel Has Fallen, in theaters now.

Angel Has Fallen is the third chapter in the Gerard Butler-led franchise that centers on his Mike Banning, a U.S. Secret Service Agent, and the war on terrorism. On the heels of 2013's Olympus Has Fallen and 2016's London Has Fallen, this sequel involves Mike being framed for an attempted assassination on new President Allan Trumbull, played by Morgan Freeman.

In the explosive finale, Mike recruits an unlikely ally in his estranged father, and Vietnam War veteran, Clay (Nick Nolte), and goes on the offensive against those looking to send American to war, including threats from within the White House itself.

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Early in the film, Mike's best friend, Wade (Danny Huston), is seen trying to convince him to take the job as director of the Secret Service so Mike can sling his war buddy some private contracts for his company, Salient. It's later revealed the attempted hit on Trumbull was actually planned by Wade, as he wants to frame Mike as a Russian asset hired in a plot to force the United States to attack that country.

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Wade knows that will benefit Salient, as Trumbull's anti-war policies have harmed the company. When his scheme is revealed after Salient takes out some FBI agents to cover its tracks, Wade decides to finish the job, and kill a hospitalized Trumbull. His troops slaughter the president's Secret Service detail, not realizing Mike is back in play. He broke in earlier, and convinced his former allies that he didn't go rogue, which results in brutal showdown on the roof of the hospital. The brawl ends with Mike blowing up Wade's escape helicopter and then puncturing his former friend's lungs in a knife fight. They then watch the sunset together as Wade calls Mike "a lion," their nickname for each other.


However, Wade wasn't working alone. The person who hired him was someone feigning support for Trumbull, even when he was in a coma: Vice President Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson). He wants war with Russia, as he believes it's time to "make America strong again," and he's already begun negotiating with private contractors like Salient to boost the nation's arsenal.

Kirby's scheme is up when the FBI and Secret Service dive into Wade's private records, revealing Salient was paid enormous sums of money to set up Mike and fake an attack by Russia. All of Kirby's dark secrets come out in the open, leading to a confrontation with a recovered Trumbull, who has him arrested and escorted out the White House. However, it's not a total victory, as the president doesn't know what other cells Kirby activated during his time as acting president.


Clay helps Mike early on when Salient come hunting him in the Virginia woods, using his war tactics and love of pyrotechnics to full effect, blowing up enemies left, right and center. Mike doesn't want to establish a relationship, though, as he simply needed a place to crash, ergo why he sought his dad out. He's still ticked off that Clay left him as a kid with his mom, but Clay admits it was the best move, as he was suffering from PTSD.

He makes up for it by saving Mike's family when Salient comes for them. Clay protects them until Mike's mission is over, and after his son accepts the director's job, Clay decides to forego plans to roam the country in order to be part of the family again. He realizes he missed out in the past and, after regretting that abandonment, he and Mike reforge their bond, even exchanging ideas on homeland security.

Now in theaters, Angel Has Fallen stars Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson and Piper Perabo, with Nick Nolte and Danny Huston.

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