Sunday, June 30, 2013

White House Down

Year: 2013
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, James Woods, Jason Clarke

Plot: Off duty cop John Cale, who just had his application to join the Secret Service rejected, is the only one who can protect the President when a paramilitary group attacks the White House.

Review: Inevitable comparisons have been made between this film and Olympus Has Fallen which was released a few months ago, but I can assure you that White House Down is a lot of fun to sit through.

Thing is, Roland Emmerich loves to blow stuff up in a big way, based on his track record. It's always silly and over the top, but at the same time it's always entertaining. While the threat here may not be as big as alien invasions or end of the world scenarios, it's quite believable, which is the key to having a good time with it. Compared to Olympus Has Fallen, Emmerich's film is lower on the violence scale, with minimal blood and gore. But thankfully, this doesn't make the film any less watchable.

As in his previous films, Emmerich puts an everyman in the protagonist's shoes, and here it's Channing Tatum. Tatum plays a cop who takes his 11 year old daughter on a tour of the White House, after he fails an interview to join the Secret Service. When the bad guys break in and start killing everyone, Tatum has to man up and protect the President and save his little girl. Tatum may not be the best actor in Hollywood, but he's a great action hero and he's real easy to root for here. Jamie Foxx plays the President with a mix of seriousness and humour, which the audience will no doubt love. I sure did. Maggie Gyllenhaal slips into the role of the Secret Service agent guiding Cale from the outside, a role which is customary for films like this, but she pulls it off nicely. Richard Jenkins and James Woods, two old hands in the game, do well in their supporting roles here too.

If I could think of any downsides here, it would be certain plotholes or things that don't make sense, like why does it always look so easy to break into fortified places like this? Or why an 11 year old kid would have a great interest in politics? Not to mention the fact that some of the action sequences here, including a car chase sequence around the White House Lawn looks absolutely ludicrous, but for the record, I kinda dug it anyway.

To sum it up, White House Down is loud, explosive, silly and ridiculous. But it never stops being fun. I wouldn't mind seeing it again, actually. (4/5) 

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