White House Down

White House Down

Roland Emmerich returns to destroy the White House again (ID4) in this “shoot first, hope no one asks any questions” action film.

On the brink of his historic withdrawal of all troops from the Middle East, President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) finds Washington under attack. A bomb goes off in the Capitol Building, and the White House is under siege by a band of armed mercenaries. Thankfully for him, a Capitol police officer who had been applying for a position with the Secret Service in on site (Channing Tatum). Even though John Cale was told he was unqualified for the position by the Secret Service agent interviewing him (Magie Gyllenhaal), he’s still willing to risk life and limb for the President when the shooting starts.

He’ll have to protect more than just the President, however. He brought his young, history obsessed daughter to accompany him to the White House. The two get separated at the outbreak of hostilities, and she winds up a hostage.

Will Cale be able to save his daughter and the President? Will he also be able to thwart the objectives of those who planned the attack?

Roland Emmerich has a certain sensibility that you can count on to carry over from film to film to film. He’ll create some sort of massive disaster, which gives rise to numerous action sequences… he’ll sprinkle a handful of humor beats within, probably throw in an outright comic relief character or two. The plots will be almost unfathomably ridiculous, and the character work won’t exactly be deep. His M.O. is fully intact in “White House Down”; that’s what he delivers for us here, as well. The White House becomes a war zone, many people are shot, plenty of things go boom and occasionally someone cracks a one-liner. It’s entertainment for the masses at it’s most basic.

Typically I don’t mind that, but somehow I didn’t connect all that well with this one. It could be the massive similarities between this and this year’s earlier White House under attack movie “Olympus Has Fallen”. I know they were produced concurrently, so its not as if this was a rip off, but the feeling of been there done that was hard for me to shake. Aside from the redundancy though, there’s something too patently formulaic for me to get comfortable with here. Plus, of course, the fact that the plausibility of… pretty much everything is thin at best.

The cast is surprisingly deep, though. After Tatum and Foxx in the lead, you have Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins and Lance Reddick in support. None of them are given any heavy lifting to do, but they’re all entertaining to watch. Combined with the fact that the pacing is pretty nonstop (though it does take awhile for the action to start and the runtime is 2:11) and that there’s plenty of action, and you have a typical mindless summer blockbuster. Most people who go to check it out should come out relatively satisfied, and I’m sure there will be a contingent of folks for whom this satisfies their “Big Dumb Action Movie” cravings.

Even though I wasn’t the biggest fan, I know that many folks will be able to appreciate the turn off your brain action that Emmerich is serving up here.

B

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54 thoughts on “White House Down

  1. I agree that the comparison to Olympic Has Fallen will cripple this film. I thought Emmerich wasnt explosive enough to his standards. Overall Olympic Has Fallen is the better film. But it is a good enough film to entertain.

    • Yeah, Issy, I agree. If I had to choose one of them it would be Olympus has Fallen as well. To me, that movie had a better, kind of cheesy tone. I cant tell if Emmerich knows how freaking goofy his movies are or what…

  2. Awesome review! I’ve been tempted to see it in the theatres but “big dumb action movies” not really doing it this time..but with Channing Tatum and Joey King in this one, I’m definitely going to check it out eventually. :)

  3. Damn, whelp, I’m expecting to probably be alone in my absolute adoration of this movie. I loved the shit out of it, lol. At least you didn’t hate it. :P

    • Yeah, I haven’t been by your review yet, but I got the notification and saw you were loving on it.

      I didn’t hate it, and I wont give you much crap for loving it as long as you acknowledge the… Emmerichness of it all. LOL. ;)

  4. Well at least you waited till the end of your review to mention “Olympus..”. Most reviews don’t make it that far. I saw “Olympus”, not this. That’s enough I think. I believe agents pitch these plots to studios, the studios say they’re not interested, and then make their own version with just enough variation to avoid lawsuits. How else do you explain these twins?
    Hey,I missed your blog yesterday. Hoped you weren’t ill or something, first Friday in many a moon. Just thought I’d say.

    • Yeah, the reader whose turn it was bailed, and I decided to retain my “backup” rather than expend it. :(

      Anyways, that’s as plausible a theory as any… frankly that always confuses me how that happens. So bizarre. I prefer Olympus, but they’re both a lot of explosions in DC with very little reason to exist. LOL. Disposable entertainment at its finest…

      • Keeping that “back-up” in your hip pocket, huh? lol. Not sure how I feel about that. ;)

        Meanwhile, I’m a little surprised that Olympus was the better film. I haven’t seen either (being a DC resident, neither one seems very attractive), but honestly I was thinking that this one would be the better of the 2, I’m not sure why. Maybe someday I’ll try a double feature of the 2 when they’re both on Netflix or something.

      • Let’s put it this way, I liked Olympus better. Neither one of them is particularly great, both function on a big dumb action movie level at best. I prefer Olympus because its less… Emmerich. LOL. You’d have to see them I guess.

        Meanwhile, I’ll need all the backup I can get soon, so…

  5. Good review. Sounds like this will be a decent summer guilty pleasure, though not much more. A friend and I were planning on seeing it this week, mostly, I have to confess, because of Channing Tatum. ;)

    • LOL. Gotcha. ;)

      Anyways “guilty pleasure” is the operative term, and I’m sure a lot of people will get that level of enjoyment out of it. I think the emphasis for me was on the guilty and not on the pleasure though. LOL

  6. Nice review. I’m not particularly excited for White House Down, but it looks like a nice getaway. Also, which would you say is better: this or Olympus Has Fallen? I get the two confused, and I’ve been meaning to see both.

    On a side note: why is Independence Day always abbreviated as ID4? Why not just ID? Is the 4 for July 4th? Just curious…

    • I don’t really know, I didn’t start it. LOL. Maybe because the 4 could be July 4th, but also looks like an A? Like of how Leet Speak uses a 3 for an E? Not sure…

      I prefer Olympus has fallen because was a little cheesier, a little more violent, and I believed in Gerard Butler as a quasi John McClane much more than Channing Tatum. That’s my opinion at least. :(

  7. Hi, Fogs:

    I think I have entered a Mobius Loop of a single event playing itself over and over again regarding Emmerich.

    He blows stuff up (The White House Included) in ‘Independence Day’. He blows stuff up and breaks things in ‘Godzilla’ and ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. Then breaks more things in a big ways in ’2012′.

    Now, I heard that Roland has signed on Will Smith and Bill Pullman for ‘Independence Day 2′?

    How does ‘White House Down’ differ or vary from Emmerich’s well used pallet?

  8. I got to say, the more I saw this trailer the more uninterested I became. And Jamie Foxx seems like the most unconvincing president I’ve ever seen.

    • LOL. He was pretty laid back about the whole thing. Pretty funny. :D

      Meanwhile, it’s just a bunch of noise, really. I know a lot of people will dig on it because it is pretty high grade “big dumb action movie”, but… if you never check it out, you’re not missing anything, Keith. :(

  9. “Let’s blow things up” … I’m down for a good senseless action flick, but the action has got to be first rate and judging by the trailer it’s not quite there.

  10. And here I was hoping for an intense political thriller… :D

    Nah. This had “Big Dumb Summer Action Flick” written all over it. Only question was whether it would be good enough as that… sounds like it’s just a touch short.

    • I guess… I mean, I know all about putting good grades on movies just because I enjoy them. But something here was off in my book, and it didn’t quite provide all the entertainment I would hope it would have :(

  11. Hmmm. Surprised to see this get a B. This was such a flop at the box office. The critics haven’t been too kind either. I wasn’t going to watch this at all, but perhaps I’ll see it when it comes to DVD.

  12. I sort of wondered what Maggie Gyllenhaal was doing in this, it sort of looks like the original DIE HARD in the trailers. It might be a rental, unless our air conditioning goes out in a heat wave ;)

    • Pretty much is “Die Hard in the White House”. Gyllenhaal has some sort of vaguely undefined upper echelon secret service role. When all the shit hits the fan, she’s in the bunker making suggestions from afar… ;)

      I wouldn’t let a heat wave push you to this one. LOL. If that’s the case, seek shelter in Monsters U or The Heat :D

  13. I”m OK when the movie is stupid but the characters here are stupid. Jamie Fox cashed his check and that’s about it. Of course his character was the most underwritten President we ever had. Calvin Coolidge had better lines, and he was known as Silent Cal. It just did not sparkle in the craptacular way a movie like this needs. I did not hate it but I expected to enjoy it a whole lot more. Olympus worked better.

    • I agree Olympus was better, but I’m still trying to put my finger on exactly why. I think this movie is trying to be a bigger, more standard action movie, while Olympus knew it was a cheese-fest.

      LOL at Foxx’s bad President. He’ll go down as the President that let the White House get destroyed. ;)

  14. for the longest time I thought White House Down was the UK title for Olympus has Fallen and vice versa. Ha! Looks like fun. One I’ll probably wait to see, but I reckon I’d enjoy it.

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