Secret Service agents live in a constant state of high alert. At any given second, they have to be ready to thwart a near-infinite number of potential threats that could come from any country, any group, or any person, without warning.
Their sacrifices—the persistent danger, the merciless demands on body and soul, the stress on their relationships—are rarely recognized publicly, but they don’t do it for the recognition. They do it because they are driven to serve the highest office of the land and the bedrock of democracy.
That kind of devotion has always defined Mike Banning in the movie Angel has Fallen. On the job, he is a cunning, dogged, laser-focused patriot, but he is also a self-questioning and at times a self-deprecating man who has his dark corners of jagged regrets and frustrations.
He has done and seen it all. In Olympus Has Fallen, he rescued the First Family from a North Korean-led kidnapping inside the White House. In London Has Fallen, he kept President Asher from harm during a terrorist attack on world leaders attending the British Prime Minister’s funeral.
Director Ric Roman Waugh jumped right away at the idea of exploring Mike Banning not just in jeopardy but in a chaotic state of mind. He knew from making That Which I Love Destroys Me that a man like Banning would, like so many real-life warriors in the military and law enforcement worlds, have to pay the piper for the mental, physical and spiritual toll of his work.
“What I learned making the doc is that there are a lot of modern-day warriors who have a different kind of PTSD,” explains the director. “It’s not the classic shellshock where they are running away from war. Instead, they’ve become addicted to war, to the intensity of it, and that makes it harder for them to return to society and everyday life. We made the documentary about members of the military, but after it premiered, I started hearing from all kinds of other people, from first responders and law enforcement and more, talking about how they were going through the same thing.
"So, I felt from the beginning that this would be a very authentic and interesting journey to take with Mike Banning. He is, as he’s told in the film, a lion, but there are consequences to always being a lion.”
Butler loved Waugh’s approach to the action. “Ric’s style is all about putting you smack in the middle of the chaos,” Butler explains. “He sucks you in with a gritty realism—so that even in the most insane scenarios, you feel you are right there in the moment with Banning.”
Angel Has Fallen opens in India this August 23rd by PVR Pictures and MVP Entertainment.