WHITE HOUSE DOWN
***1/2 (out of 5)
June 28, 2013
Channing Tatum as CALE
Jamie Foxx as PRESIDENT SAWYER
Maggie Gyllenhaal as FINNERTY
Jason Clarke as STENZ
Richard Jenkins as RAPHELSON
Joey King as EMILY
James Woods as WALKER
Nicholas Wright as DONNIE THE GUIDE
Jimmi Simpson as TYLER
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
If there’s anything I’ve learned from movies in 2013, it’s that the White House is hella easy to overrun. After all, it’s happened twice already this year.
This time around, Jamie Foxx plays Aaron Eckhardt and Channing Tatum plays Gerard Butler. “White House Down” features virtually the same plot line as “Olympus Has Fallen,” though there are some noticeable difference. For example, this film is rated PG-13, so the invasion sequence is a lot less bloody and not as overtly violent. Also, “White House Down” takes advantage of Channing Tatum’s real acting talent with plenty of comic relief moments.
It’s a return to form for Roland Emmerich, who has yet to top “Independence Day” as a bucket of thoroughly enjoyable popcorn movie. “White House Down” isn’t at that level, but it’s refreshingly better than Emmerich’s last two films, “10,000 B.C.” and “Anonymous.”
It’s also quite different from the disaster flicks “The Day After Tomorrow” and “2012” that he fell into a few years ago. Instead, “White House Down” pushes all the buttons for audience approval with this movie. It’s an insanely convoluted and (at times) downright stupid story, but that’s not the point of this film. It’s got action and excitement, and maybe a bit too much flag waving (at times literally), and it’s exhilarating if not somewhat forgettable.
The story follows Cale (Tatum), a wannabe Secret Service Agent who, after an interview with the agency, takes his daughter (Joey King) on a White House tour. Terrorists storm the White House and take everyone inside hostage, including the President (Foxx). In the spirit of “Die Hard,” Cale is the only person who has a chance of stopping them.
This isn’t the first time that Roland Emmerich has destroyed the White House, and the movie itself gives a nod to that famous scene. However, this assault on the nation’s capital is far more intimate. It’s not as rough to watch as “Olympus Has Fallen” was, but with the large number of civilian hostages (including Cale’s daughter), it can actually be a little more tense.
Of course, the whole premise of the movie is ridiculous, but I’d rather see a movie about terrorists storming our head of government and call it hogwash than to shrug my shoulders and say, “Eh, it could happen.” Like other Presidential thrillers like “Air Force One,” once you get past the set-up, things go a little smoother.
As you might expect, as the terrorists’ plans come to fruition, the movie reaches ludicrous speed. The actual objective of the terrorists amounts to a shaky house of cards that is hard to believe could work, but like the SCUBA tank exploding in the shark’s mouth in “Jaws,” if you are wrapped up in the movie’s pacing and excitement, you won’t care that the plot is damn near impossible.
There’s really not much to say about the film beyond it’s broad audience appeal. It’s not trying to be a great feat of cinema, and it doesn’t achieve that. However, it does achieve being a fun ride in the summer months.