US Release Date: 06-28-2013
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
- Channing Tatum, as
- Jamie Foxx, as
- President Sawyer
- Maggie Gyllenhaal, as
- Jason Clarke, as
- Richard Jenkins, as
- Joey King, as
- James Woods, as
- Nicolas Wright, as
- Donnie the Guide
- Jimmi Simpson, as
- Michael Murphy, as
- Vice President Hammond
- Rachelle Lefevre, as
- Lance Reddick, as
- General Caulfield
- Matt Craven, as
- Agent Kellerman
- Jake Weber, as
- Agent Hope
- Peter Jacobson as
Channing Tatum in White House Down
Well folks, those damn right wing white men are at it again. This time those evil conservatives have stormed and taken over the White House and want to start a nuclear war. Their motive is revenge and money, of course. After all, we all know that rich white American men care about nothing but making a buck no matter how many people may get killed, right?
Tatum plays a douche bag of a divorced father. He forgets to attend his daughter’s talent show by a week. What father does that? He tries to make up to her by taking her on a White House tour. His daughter is a White House history buff who likes to spout odd facts at random. He is also there for an interview to join the Secret Service which he bombs. If that was not enough to dampen his day, some terrorists take over the White House, kill all kinds of agents, abduct his daughter, blow up the Capital Building and try to kill him more times than can be counted.
Tatum is apparently impervious to pain. He survives explosions, a car accident and falls from several stories. There is never any real threat to his life, no matter how many hundreds of bullets are shot at him. He goes from saving the President to saving his daughter. All the while the only thing that happens to him is that he breaks a sweat.
The film has one truly laughable moment. When they start the White House tour, a fat red neck woman asks to see the underground tunnel that John F. Kennedy used to sneak Marilyn Monroe into the White House. The tour guide states that no such tunnel exists. Later, however, we learn otherwise.
Jamie Foxx spends most of the time either spouting politics about a Middle East peace plan or running from baddies. During his speeches, President Obama's influence is obvious. His manner of speaking often resembles Obama’s cadence.
As dull as Foxx’s performance is, he still fairs better than Tatum, who seems to struggle to play any emotion beyond confused. As I think of it, maybe he is not acting at all. Perhaps that blank look is just what comes natural to him.
We already had Olympus Has Fallen earlier this year. In both films a lone man saves the President when terrorists take over the White House. It was not a great film but I put it ahead of this one as it runs ten minutes shorter and the enemy is North Korea instead of right wingers and U.S. military veterans, who we all know are responsible for nearly all of the terrorists attacks against the United States. Oh wait, it is another group, but like Hollywood I cannot, for the life of me, seem to remember who they are.
Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum in White House Down.
This movie is better than Eric gives it credit for, but not by much. While the choice of villains didn't bother me nearly as much as Eric, the filmmakers did miss an opportunity. When you make a movie about an attack on the White House and release it the week before the Fourth of July, you should capitalize on the patriotism that will invoke in audiences. Channing Tatum should have emerged from the burning White House draped in the American flag. Instead there's the muddled message of the good guys and the bad guys both being American.
The one thing that having this be an inside job provides is a partial explanation for how the White House gets taken over. In Olympus Has Fallen, this year's other White House invasion movie, foreign terrorists are able to take over the White House with far too much ease, even with the help of an American traitor. They're still able to do the same in this film, but at least you can say, "Well, they had high level, inside help."
Of course the real reason why Hollywood so often chooses to have Americans attack Americans rather than a foreign power is because of how important foreign box office has become. That's the reason why the makers of the Red Dawn remake changed the nationality of their terrorists from Chinese to North Korean. They didn't want to endanger the amount of money they could earn in China. Given the many things wrong with this movie, the nationality of the villain is one of the least of its problems.
Although it's easy to compare this movie with Olympus Has Fallen, the movie it's really trying to imitate is Die Hard. They both take place mainly in one building where a cop has to do battle with terrorists who are holding hostages including a member of his family. The biggest problem with that is the one that Eric mentioned. Channing Tatum is no actor. He's a set of sculpted abs who recites lines from a script. He definitely lacks the cocky charm of Bruce Willis. He's also not helped by a clunky script that takes way too long to get going.
Eric didn't like Jamie Foxx's performance, but I think he's influenced by how much Foxx is trying to channel Obama and how much Eric dislikes our current president. I actually thought he does quite a good job and would much rather have seen Foxx turn into a Harrison Ford type character from Air Force One than watch more of Channing's wooden acting. But again, the script doesn't help Foxx much either, with lines about "Get your hands off my Jordans!" when a terrorist touches his sneakers. It doesn't exactly rank up there with "Get off my plane!"
The action is, as you'd expect from a Roland Emmerich movie, very over the top. The car chase around the White House lawn being the most outrageous scene. Some of it though, is fairly entertaining, in a minor, "Oh look, explosions." kind of way. It's nothing extraordinary, but it's more entertaining than the dialogue. And at least when the action is happening, the movie zips along, unlike the overly long scenes we are saddled with at the beginning of the film. There's no need for any of the scenes prior to Channing Tatum and his daughter showing up at the White House.
There was some question at the beginning of the year as to which movie would be the winner and which would be the loser between this movie and Olympus Has Fallen. I'm not sure who won, but I know who the losers are. That would be the audience that's forced to sit through these things. Maybe for a sequel they could have a band of renegade film critics plot an attack on a movie studio where they plan to hold the President of the studio hostage until he agrees to stop making movies like this one. Now that's a movie I'd go to see.
Photos © Copyright Mythology Entertainment (2013)