Released: June 28th, 2013
Director: Roland Emmerich
I’m a father of two daughters, so Father-Daughter movies always start off on the right foot with me. White House Down does so, and despite the fact that it stumbles at points, it gets across the finish line. Tripping, almost falling on its face, it still breaks the tape and sticks the landing. At the end of the day, it lands higher on my list than its sister movie, Olympus Has Fallen.
Don’t get me wrong. Olympus Has Fallen is the more believable action flick. And you hate the villains more, an endearing quality for any solid action movie. The difference between these two movies is much like the difference between Arrow and Flash. I would argue that one is the better action show, but the other is definitely more uplifting. Consider White House Down the latter and decide if you’re looking for a night of thrills and spills or if you want something darker and a bit grungier.
Channing Tatum portrays a former soldier who has not quite found his footing. Although landing a job with the Capitol Police, he is still a disappointment to most people, including his daughter. Who his daughter is impressed by is President Sawyer, played by Jamie Foxx. A bunch of bad guys concoct a plot to kidnap the president, steal all the gold, and blow up the world.
Yeah, that last bit is a bit angst-filled, beause the villain’s plot is very convoluted and overbearing. But it does not matter. Because this movies survives on the charm of Tatum and Foxx. Arguably the two most un-hateable actors in Hollywood, these two would have to play serial killers for anyone to dislike any character they were playing, and even then they’d probably still have fans. Tatum does what he does, which is to be charming regardless of whatever script nightmare is going on around him. Foxx does the same. Their performance centers around their thoughts on family and what their positions (the Presidency and the Protector) mean, and their relationship with each other, regardless of its newness. The fact that they do not spend a lot of time spewing vengeful vitriol about their captors keeps your mind from focusing on any faulty stitching in the plot.
White House Down focuses on people being dependable and reliable for other people. It is that simple. It is a little disappointing that the arrogant General, instead of being slapped down when it is all over, seems to get a promotion. But other than that, the bad guys get theirs and the good guys become heroes. It is an uplifting film, with plenty of well-done laughs that skirt camp without the movie going full-on Buffy. Tatum is a great action star in his physicality. I also really like a lot of the cinematography. The low-level flight of Blackhawks on a very risky mission through downtown Washington DC is the most notable. In fact the flying sequences overall are just beautifully shot, including the flyby of the Lincoln Memorial. Most notable off-center character? Donnie the White House tour guide, who finishes the movie trying to hook up with Tatum’s in-movie ex-wife. Priceless.
Just about every other performance in this movie is forgettable, though, James Woods is pretty solid, and Jason Clarke is building quite a resume as a bad guy. Why Maggie Gyllenhaal did this movie, I’m not sure. She does not take anything away from the movie, but she does not really add that much either. She delivers the “Cale, I’m so sorry” the exact way so many times that I though it was a voice dub.
I definitely qualify this one as worth a watch, and it might even be worth a second viewing down the road. It’s available in quite a few places, but I specifically bought it in HD on iTunes. There it is the same price for both the HD and SD versions and is on a “Channing Tatum Movies for under $10” sale.