Wednesday, 12 February 2014

White House Down

Back in 1989 when the film The Abyss by James Cameron was released, there were four other films out around the same time that also focused on Alien life deep beneath our oceans. They all followed related themes, shared a somewhat similar look and all just happened to be released the same year. Then, almost 10 years later, the same thing happened when two high profile World War II films came out in 1998, in the form of Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line. But the most recent one is the weirdest, people. Released within a mere 4 months of each other, both White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen dealt with the aftermath of a terrorist attack on the White House. But despite these major similarities, and viewing White House Down outside of this bizarre almost conspiracy-like coincidence, is it any good?


Directed by Roland Emmerich aka the film making equivalent of Marmite, White House Down stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, two actors who are arguably at the height of their careers. The story follows John Cale (Tatum), a United States Capitol Police officer who is assigned as security detail to a member of the House of Representatives. After the President (Foxx) publicly proposes a peace treaty that will bring allied troops out of the Middle East, a man detonates a bomb at United States Capitol.

This kicks off a well-organized and planned homegrown terrorist attack that has it’s sights on the President himself. Now, in teaming up with the President, Cale must wipe out the terrorists and prevent their plan from coming to fruition; a plan that will undoubtedly kick off World War III. White House Down is a by-the-numbers Roland Emmerich film. That's both a good and bad thing, as for all the badass action and explosions throughout, there's an equal amount of fluff and painfully cheesy moments here.


The characters are cardboard. Sadly even Jamie Foxx, an actor who won an Oscar 10 years ago, fails to inject any emotion into his role. Then there's Channing Tatum, who despite doing a 180 from “pretty boy” status to “you know, this guy is actually a good actor” status, just plays the cookie cutter action hero. Not that that's a bad thing of course, but when a lot of your film is focused on mending a failed father and daughter relationship, you'd at least think they'd try and put some feeling behind it. But no, White House Down fails on an emotional level, and it’s insistence to hit home such boring and hammy sub-plots drags it down quite a bit. Go away emotions, you have no place in action films!

That said, the action is pretty awesome. In classic Roland Emmerich fashion, the action comes fast and hard, and is entertaining as it is absolutely ridiculous. From a great one-on-one fist fight in which Cale goes up against one of the bigger terrorists, to an excellent scene that shows the terrorists firing a Javelin surface-to-air missile at Air Force One, there's plenty of mindless fun to be had here. Hell, even the goofy moments are great, like when the President is crawling away from a terrorist he just knocked out, only for the terrorist to wake up and grab his feet. The President’s response? He caves the guy face in with the line, “GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY JORDANS!”, with each word pronounced by a face smash. Yeah, the President loves his sneakers. It's moments like these whereby even though your laughing at the film rather than with it, it's still all in good fun.


But the schmaltzy moments sour an otherwise great action film. This isn't new with this director’s films, but whereas Independence Day's action outweighed the corny and overly patriotic scenes, White House Down is the opposite. The crappy outweighs the good here. Still, it's worth a watch if you want to see James Woods being the bad guy for the 9000th time. And yes, yes you do.

White House Down, though still enjoyable, is as uncomfortably hammy as a pig in a butcher shop and gets a 2/5, []

Denis Murphy


White House Down at CeX



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