At one point in White House Down, young Emily (Joey King, who seems to be in everything these days) screams through tears to the bad guys “My Daddy is going to put you in jail!” This is when you know for sure that Director Roland Emmerich, and writer James Vanderbilt have a clear idea what type of movie they are making. There are times when you think White House Down is being played straight, but then a line like this comes and you are like, yes they really are yanking your chain. There’s also a ridiculous moment where she twirl’s a flag, but then every scene with Emily was groan inducing.
There really is an advantage to being first out of the gate. Especially when it feels like I just saw, pretty much, this exact same movie less than two months ago. Back then all those days ago it was called Olympus Has Fallen. Beat by beat there is very little difference. Funny thing is, as cheesy as these two “Die Hard in the White House” films are; I loved both of them for different reasons.
It was surprising Emmerich actually took a more “serious” approach – at least in the beginning, before he realized what type of film he was making, instead of an over the top balls out external invasion from foreign nationals, he used a more “stealthy” White House take over. The bad guys took over by using a couple of well-placed traitors on President Sawyer’s (Jamie Foxx) team. As shown in the movie, it is surprisingly “easy” to take over the White House. As the great Cobra Commander once told Serpenter, anyone can take over Washington, DC, it’s holding it that is hard.
This is even more true when you have the under achieving ex-marine Cale (Channing Tatum) in the house. These movies always seem to try and fail to get the President to his hidey-hole. The main problem with this movie is at over 2 hours, the movie feels long.
Unlike Olympus, it seemed like Emmerich got a lot aspects about Washington, geography correct. There is an hysterically funny and obviously CGI’ed shot of Blackhawk helicopters flying through Chinatown, right under the famous China Town banner (we DC critics got a kick out that because a lot of our screenings are held here), then there was a funny, but accurate comment about Dupont Circle that made me smile. So often people get DC geography wrong – even when the movies are filmed here, it was fun to see proper references.
I’m coming out of the closet, I LOVE Channing Tatum! He just seems to have so much fun in every role he does and no matter how bad the movie is, you just have to go with it. The fight choreography was well done it had the frenetic energy and chaos that you would expect to see in a real fight. Foxx was horribly miscast as the President and the poor makeup did not help. The chemistry between Tatum and Foxx settled in about halfway through the movie.
I’m not going to say that, objectively, White House Down is a “good” movie, but it is a fun popcorn flick. This is the type of movie I’ll probably watch a million times when it comes on HBO.
Final Grade B+