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.