White House Down (2013)

White House DownRelease Date: June 28, 2013. Director: Roland Emmerich. Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Runtime: 131 min.

Apparently infiltrating the White House is so easy, everyone’s doing it! (And they just finished re-building it, too!) All you have to do is rally up a bunch of people who are angry at the government, spend a day planning, synchronize your watches, and go to town. But be careful, there’s going to be a highly-decorated police officer of some kind standing in your way.

John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a Capitol police officer on tour of the White House with his daughter Emily (Joey King). He is also interviewing for a spot on the Secret Service, protecting President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). On that very day, because the President issued an international Peace Treaty, a paramilitary group invades the White House; now John must save his daughter, the President, and the country.

Whether it be Channing Tatum vs. a 25-person paramilitary group or Gerard Butler vs. North Korea’s entire 300 person army, both action guys are forces to be reckoned with. “Olympus Has Fallen” had to face comparisons to “Die Hard” back in March, so compared to this, it is living on easy street. Now, this has to face comparisons to both “Die Hard” and “Olympus.” Will it stand strong through all of it? Probably not.

“White House Down” is the better movie in some ways – but “Olympus” has the benefit of being released first. The former is superior to the latter in the CGI-effects department, the higher-profile director, and the cast. Even against the likes of Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart and Melissa Leo; once you have Tatum, Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal and then add the extra oomph of James Woods, Richard Jenkins and Jason Clarke; there’s no competition. But “Olympus” wins in many other aspects.

“Olympus” embraces its over-the-top brutality and the insane premise of a terrorist group taking down the most heavily protected house on Earth in a matter of minutes. That movie is a lot of fun. This is only mildly fun. It has fun with the premise, but its aspirations of becoming a great buddy action comedy feel forced. This feels too serious at times, which doesn’t work to the film’s benefit with so many frustrating “Okay, that’ll never happen!” moments. Granted, this premise will never happen – but if it does ever happen, we should all hope that the actual John McClane is taking a tour of the White House that day.

The antagonists’ motives are explained well for the most part. Cale’s motivations to stay at the White House to save his daughter are evident as well, even if those motivations are cookie-cutter. But that isn’t bad for this type of movie, because audiences are there for the action. There just isn’t enough of it.

The build-up takes too long, and this type of movie needs to have tension building that doesn’t take forever. There’s a lot of drama there, and we just want the action. And the bits of humour. Thankfully, there’s quite a lot of that, too. One of the members of the paramilitary group (the amusing hacker, Jimmi Simpson) has a lot of charisma, so he is the best antagonist in the movie – even better than the boss man (who I won’t reveal, even if (s)he’ll be blatantly obvious). There’s a prominent buddy comedy aspect, and even if the jokes aren’t so memorable, they provide big laughs at the time.

“White House Down” is familiar and forgettable, but it’s not a horrible way to pass 131 minutes. It just doesn’t bring enough to the table to be noteworthy. Since it’s so familiar, there are few surprises hiding away, and the antagonists are obvious from the get go. Apparently, if you’ve seen one Die Hard in the White House movie; you’ve seen them all.

Score: 58/100

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10 Responses to White House Down (2013)

  1. Foogos says:

    131minutes?!? Did I imagine the time when movies were between 80-90 minutes?because I could swear hey used to be, but absolutely nothing is that short now.

    • Daniel Prinn says:

      Hahah it’s so true. Even Adam Sandler movies are 100 minutes! And they’re usually about absolutely nothing! I mean, it’s odd for a movie to be 80-90 min long, and they’re usually found footage type things, because the only ones I can remember off the top of my head is The Purge and Chronicle.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    Nice review Dan. It’s a very dumb movie, but it’s also a lot of fun.

  3. Abbi says:

    I think the fact that it’s called White House Down already means I am never going to enjoy it…

  4. Great read. I’ll eventually check this movie out but I’m not expecting much. As long as it is better than GI Joe: Retaliation that is!

    • Daniel Prinn says:

      Thanks Darryl 🙂 Hahah, hopefully! I still have to see that one…

      • You might want to just skip it. I actually enjoyed GI Joe Rise of the Cobra (Part 1). Retaliation was awful and had complete disregard for the characters of part 1.

      • Daniel Prinn says:

        Really? Hmm… I’ll take that into consideration… Yeah, I liked the first one, too. Since I like to see mostly everything — I’ll keep the second one on my watchlist, but because of the poor reception, I won’t rush to it. Thanks 🙂

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