White House Down
God bless f***king America! This seems to be statement of the career for filmmaker Roland Emmerich.
This guy has become the Irwin Allan of our generation; always developing these big and massive disaster movies. He also manages to bring in a star-studded cast, often grabbing the best (mostly through large paycheck offers). Add all of this together, and you probably have a massive hit. Honestly, I have not been that much of a fan of his movies. The stories written for these worlds never seem to match. Often whenever they present some deadly force, the people involved are always the dumbest and somehow have a coincidental friend in the White House.
I guess I find it fascinating that Roland’s movies are very patriotic, yet he grew up in Germany. His films tend to be love letters to the country that has allowed him to become a blockbuster director, so I can say he has good intentions about his films. Are they the worst? I wouldn’t go that far. His biggest issue always seems to be the writing. Rather then taking the chance to shoot a disaster from a unique perspective, he seems to pick the most generic people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. White House Down may be a step up for this guy.
White House Down is a dangerously similar film to this year’s Olympus Has Fallen. They are both about terrorists taking over the White House and also have heroes that are the only ones that can save the day. So what’s different with this one?
Our hero is not a Secret Service agent, but he wants to be. John Cale (played by Channing Tatum) is a U.S. Capital police officer that is assigned to protect the Speaker of the House, Richard Jenkins.
Cale is trying to build a better relationship with his daughter Emily (played by Joey King), who seems to be obsessed with everything politics related. He takes her to the White House as he is applying to become part of the Secret Service, but his application is turned down by Carol Finnerty (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal). It is also during this time that Cale and his daughter join a White House Tour where they encounter president James Sawyer (played by Jamie Fox).
Eventually, a bomb blows up at the U.S. Capital as a distraction for the real bad guys. Taking down the rest of security like mall cops in a pretzel bar, a group of white supremacists are able to trap several people, including Emily as hostages. Cale and Sawyer manage to get away as they try to figure out how to save everybody and escape.
White House Down is something that I knew was going to be a problem from the start. This movie is being advertised as a dramatic-thriller, yet the movie opens with the girl Emily waking up a three A.M. to watch some C-SPAN breaking news thing on her phone. Wow, what a dork.
But the interesting thing here is that I liked Joey King’s performance the best. She plays a child that’s vulnerable, yet tough. But the leads Tatum and Fox manage to pull off a pretty good team (though not a strong as 21 Jump Street with Jonah Hill). A lot of the actors are trying their best, so I really can’t blame them. The obvious problem is the writing. The film’s tone can’t decide if this event is a tragedy or a satire of itself. I found myself laughing at a lot of moments that were unintentional. Given how serious Olympus Has Fallen took itself, this movie could have stood out by taking a more self-aware route, but it never reaches that point. As for the action scenes, their not bad, but if your expecting the grand disaster shots from before, your not going to find it here.
I’ll give this three presidential motorcades out of five. White House Down is better then 2012, but not as good as The Patriot. At best if this is not another guilty pleasure, it’s a time killer. In terms of “blow the White House” films, Olympus Has Fallen was more fun.