WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Angel Has Fallen, in theaters now.
Angel Has Fallen, like the preceding films in the franchise, doesn't hold back on creating a tense atmosphere, with world powers ready to go to war with each other. In so doing, we've seen various terrorist cells over the course of the trilogy, as well as Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) and his U.S. Secret Service Agents, all pushed to their limits in the line of duty.
This latest movie takes it a step further, adding a dash of nuance with Mike hiding his PTSD from his family and president Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), as he thinks it'll affect his potential hiring as Secret Service Director. However, it's the post-credits of the film which really mishandles the issue as it carelessly pokes fun of the disorder, undoing the gravity placed on it before.
Seeing Mike hiding his PTSD is actually relatable, as he goes to various doctors, pays cash only and lies about his job to them. It's not that he has wounded pride or sees it as a weakness, he just doesn't want to frighten his wife Leah (Piper Perabo) or worry the White House. Mike's clearly in a bad space, passing out and such, suffering from insomnia and nightmares, so it does help to shed light on the matter.
There's an even bigger spotlight on it when he meets his reclusive dad, Clay (Nick Nolte), later on hiding out in the West Virginia woods. Clay has no electricity and is totally off the grid, reminding us how paranoia sets in. We discover his PTSD after Vietnam drove him away from Mike and his mom as Clay never healed and didn't want to drag them down with his depression as well.
In fact, seeing Clay jittery and constantly shaking, not to mention wiring his land with bombs and constantly surveilling the place with cameras, has Mike wondering if he's in for the same fate. Either way, we get a solid picture of the effects of war on both men, although they reunite and work together to save Trumbull's office and America from threats inside the White House.
When all's said and done, the film concludes with the duo sipping on whiskey in a post-credits sequence after Mike accepts the job and Clay moves home with him, Leah and their daughter, Lynne. It appears to be a warm family moment until they start joking about "not being right up there," pointing to their heads, which could be viewed as distasteful and disrespectful towards mental health patients.
This isn't bar chatter or locker room talk, and when they speak about "fixing the lights together" and getting "unfucked," and while we can see where the intention of director Ric Roman Waugh lies, the execution is terrible.
This doesn't require any levity at all and a bonding moment could have been shaped in better fashion, without insensitively poking fun at something that played a serious role in the narrative. We then see them at the Zero Gravity Center for yoga where they're placed in separate pools. The lights cut off as they're floating in this session and they begin to scream, curse and make jokes as if it's a scene out of a comedy with the Rock or Kevin Hart.
Clay ends by saying he's going to pee in the pool, and this further diminishes a very important and health-conscious beat in the movie. Honestly, a real-world issue shouldn't be made fun of like this because joking about PTSD isn't normalizing it or helping build awareness; it perpetuates the negative stigmas of mental health and makes it seem these are trivial issues that can be easily fixed.
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.
KEEP READING: Angel Has Fallen's Explosive Ending, Explained