"White House Down"
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Running Time: 137 minutes
Does the U.S. Secret Service have Roland Emmerich on its “watch list”? If not, the director of Independence Day and the new Die Hard rip off White House Down needs to be immediately placed under surveillance for his continued acts of cinematic terrorism against 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Independence Day owes its success to that money shot of an alien spacecraft destroying the White House. Now Emmerich returns to the scene of the crime with White House Down. Unfortunately for Emmerich, it was only just a few months ago that Gerald Butler took down the terrorists who dared to lay claim to the home that represents American strength and determination. Now I’m not saying Olympus Has Fallen is as a good as or as smart as Die Hard. No, it is not. Not by a long shot. But for comparison’s sake, if Olympus Has Fallen is the Die Hard of White House hostage thrillers, White House Down is its Under Siege. It’s entertaining enough, but it doesn’t measure up to its predecessor. This time around the task falls on Channing Tatum’s broad shoulders to save the president from the terrorists who have occupied the White House. The attack occurs minutes after Tatum’s veteran fails to impress his unusually politically aware tween daughter by landing his dream job with the U.S. Secret Service. So, naturally, Tatum gets to prove his worth to Jamie Foxx’s president by protecting him from the bad guys who storm the White House. Oh, and Tatum must do so while trying to locate his daughter, who is running around the White House shooting footage of the terrorists for her YouTube channel. The build up to White House Down is slow and tedious, but once the bullets start to fly, the fun begins. Emmerich isn’t interested in redefining the Die Hard subgenre in any form or fashion—he’s just out to cause the same sort of mayhem that director John McTiernan introduced 25 years ago with the first John McClane adventure. Bearing this in mind, he keeps White House Down moving at a furious pace, stopping only occasionally to allow the powers that be to haggle over the executive chain of command if Foxx falls into enemy hands. While the action is loud and over the top, there isn’t a single scene in White House Down that equals anything seen in either Die Hard or Olympus Has Fallen. If anything, White House Down will be remember for its unintentionally hilarious moments that usually involve patriotic symbols and imagery. I dare you not to laugh during the final moments of White House Down, which involves Tatum’s daughter doing something unbelievable silly in the face of certain death. Actually, Tatum’s daughter—who is played by the spunky Joey King—is the best thing about White House Down. It’s downright admirable how this little spitfire sticks to her guiding principles even when there’s a gun at her head. I guess this is Emmerich’s way of mocking the politicians who willingly whore themselves out for a campaign donation. Tatum and Foxx enjoy an easy rapport but they don’t bother to put much effort into White House Down. You can tell they’re just in it for the gunplay by the way they don’t try to polish their clichéd lines of dialogue. White House Down does trump Olympus Has Fallen when it comes to its villains. To be honest, I can’t remember the bad guy from Olympus Has Fallen. White House Down pits Tatum against Zero Dark Thirty’s brooding Jason Clarke. He’s the muscle in White House Down. I’m not going to reveal the brains under the attack, but at least they bring energy and conviction to their characters. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why they target the White House. Even though it slams the business of war, White House Down isn’t out to make any profound political statements. Emmerich only cares about blowing stuff up in deafening fashion. Next to Michael Bay, he’s the best there is at doing this on a huge budget, as White House Down proves again.
Aired: June 20, 2013
Web site: http://www.whitehousedown.com/site/