When you’re a special agent like Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) in Angel Has Fallen, you usually find yourself fighting against evil organisations or thwarting massive conspiracies that threaten to bring down entire governments. That’s the job of a special agent, right? The fate of the entire country lies on your (usually broad) shoulders as you attempt to stop whichever megalomaniacal villain who wants to take over or destroy the world.

But if your secret agent franchise is successful enough and you have several instalments under your belt… it becomes difficult to come up with new antagonists to face. After all, Mike Banning can’t keep fighting dictators or terrorists – just how many of them are there in the world? Wouldn’t at least one of them have been successful by now? Do you know how much it costs to fund a dictatorship or a terrorist organisation?

So inevitably, special agents find themselves pitted against their “greatest threat” – themselves. Or rather, the system/government which they work for. They discover they’ve been betrayed, or that rot exists in the deepest levels of their administration. Regardless of what happens next, that special agent soon finds himself on the run from the government as he finds himself battling the very people they fought for. It’s usually all resolved in the end, but it’s happened often enough that it’s pretty much a trope in and of itself. Don’t believe me? Check out these secret agents who’ve all had pretty similar experiences.


1. Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (not the latest Mission: Impossible instalment by the way, that would be Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) attempts to prove the existence of the Syndicate – a shadowy criminal organisation that nobody believes exists. Unfortunately, his actions cause the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) to be disbanded – forcing Ethan Hunt to go on the run.

Of course, Ethan Hunt being Ethan Hunt, he manages to foil the Syndicate (it turns out to be the result of a government agency gone rogue) and the IMF gets reinstated, although it takes him more than six months to do so. All is forgiven at the end of the film.


2. Captain America in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America (Chris Evans) is a lot more than a special agent – he’s an Avenger. But when you think about it, being a super soldier is basically an extreme version of a special agent, except you have super powers. Captain America being, well, Captain America, you know where his loyalty lies. After all, in Captain America: The First Avenger, he battles the greatest threat of World War II – the Red Skull.

That’s why Captain America: The Winter Soldier was such a memorable film. It forced Cap to question his beliefs when he discovered that SHIELD had secretly been infiltrated and controlled by Hydra – the very organisation that the Red Skull used to lead! Captain America goes on the run for a good portion of the film; Nick Fury is seemingly killed (he is not, don’t worry), and it seems that Hydra is going to get away with their secret control of a powerful government agency.

All is well again at the end of the film, as Captain America returns to the government’s good graces. Well, at least until Captain America: Civil War, where he has to go on the run again after tussling with Iron Man.


3. Jack Bauer in 24

24 is the action drama which focused on Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) from the Counter Terrorist Unit. The unique thing about the show was that every season took place over the course of one day – 24 hours – with each episode dedicated to one hour of that action-packed day. Jack Bauer often had to defend the President and United States against all manner of threats, even as he dealt with a somewhat stormy personal life. The series initially portrayed characters suffering from sleep deprivation, but they abandoned that in later seasons because it wasn’t very exciting.

Over the course of eight seasons, Jack Bauer would find himself going on the run from the government at least once a season as he got framed or betrayed. In one season finale, he was even given up to the Chinese authorities as a political prisoner (but he came back just in time for the next season).


4. Jason Bourne in the Bourne film franchise

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is the titular character of the Bourne series of films (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Legacy, and Jason Bourne). He was a CIA agent that suffered from severe amnesia and found himself hunted by CIA agents every film. The overarching story effectively ended with The Bourne Ultimatum, when he found out who was responsible for his amnesia (and plenty of other unpleasant atrocities), but that didn’t stop the franchise from barrelling on with The Bourne Legacy (which didn’t feature Jason Bourne) and Jason Bourne (which, of course, did).

Jason Bourne found himself fighting the CIA in virtually every film that appeared in, so he was constantly on the run from the authorities. Yet he survived each manhunt, of course… only to find himself caught in another one in the next film.


5. Mike Banning in Angel Has Fallen

In Angel Has Fallen, Morgan Freeman’s character Allan Trumbull has (finally) been promoted to President of the United States (come on, you saw this coming two movies ago!). Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is inexplicably blamed when there is an assassination attempt on the new President’s life, despite the fact that he saved Allan Trumbull’s life and civilisation multiple times in Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen.

So what happens next? Banning goes on the run from the government (he is accused of treason, after all) to find out who’s really behind the attacks.

Angel Has Fallen. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Angel Has Fallen. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

To help him in his quest to exonerate himself, Banning searches for his father, Clay Banning (Nick Nolte), who has become somewhat of a wandering hermit in the woods. He finds himself having to face the entire US government and the real bad guys as he journeys all over America to save the day. Jada Pinkett Smith (Will Smith’s wife) also stars as FBI Agent Helen Thompson.

So who’s behind the framing of Mike Banning? You’ll have to catch Angel Has Fallen to find out!



Want to know more about special agents? Check out these other articles!


Credits: Golden Village Cinemas


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