After the preposterous mayhem of Olympus Has Fallen and its equally ludicrous London-set follow-up, it’s a big ask to take unstoppable secret service agent Mike Banning seriously. Yet that is what Gerard Butler would have us do in the third outing for his bulletproof bodyguard, reintroduced in Ric Roman Waugh’s dourly unremarkable threequel as a pill-popping, PTSD-afflicted insomniac who’s the last guy Morgan Freeman’s POTUS should call on in a crisis.
Small wonder then that, when Freeman’s President Trumbull is nearly blown up by drones on a fishing trip, it’s Banning who is blamed for the attack. That’s all the cue Angel requires for an extended riff on The Fugitive, which sees GB on the lam and racing to clear his name before the shadowy forces behind that assassination bid contrive to finish the job.
Drably shot in the UK and Bulgaria, Roman Waugh’s film does manage to shoehorn in a couple of effectively explosive set-pieces before its all-guns-blazing, hospital-levelling finale. It is what lies between them that pulls things down, chief among them a mawkish reconciliation between Banning and his estranged recluse of a dad (Nick Nolte), which steeps the entire middle section in treacly sentimentality.
Freeman, for his part, gives a lackadaisical performance that seems somnolent even when he isn’t required to be comatose. And while good taste has never been at the forefront of this particular franchise, there is still something unpalatable in having Banning’s stay-at-home wifey (Piper Perabo) threatened at gunpoint while holding their baby daughter, not to mention splicing VP Tim Blake Nelson taking the presidential oath of office with a montage of charred cadavers.