Review – White House Down

White House Down Poster

It’s Deja Vu all over again.  For the second time this year, terrorist forces have taken the White House and it’s up to one unlikely hero to save the day.  This go ’round, that man is Channing Tatum.

Working security for the Speaker of the House (Richard Jenkins), John Cale (Tatum) is itching for more.  Calling in a favor or two he manages to get himself an interview with Secret Service agent, Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal) while getting his young, politics obsessed, daughter (precocious Joey King) a pass to see the White House with him.  He’s turned down, but what do you want to bet he’s going to have the chance to prove everyone wrong?

When an attack on the Capitol leads to the White House being commandeered by an unknown terrorist force, Cale finds himself in a fight to save his daughter, save president Obama Sawyer (Jamie Foxx), and maybe even save the country.

If you had told me that this was a reboot of the Die Hard franchise, the only reason I wouldn’t believe you is that John McClane (renamed John Cale) never spouts out his typical cowboy obscenity.  The formula is all there – rough and tumble guy in a white tank top with family issues is the lone gunman who can save the day by running around, hiding, and spoiling the bad guys’ plans with lot of shooting.  He’s eventually connected to the outside world by phone, but isn’t always listened to by people who should listen to him.  He’s got big stakes and big challenges.  I didn’t see it yet, but something tells me that this is a better Die Hard movie than A Good Day.

Even more obvious of a comparison to make is with Olympus has Fallen.  Aside from some plot details, in many ways, the two are identical films.  Where nearly every moment of Fallen, however, had me shaking my head in disbelief, Down manages to feel more or less realistic, at least as much as a Hollywood action movie can.  A lot of it is still pretty far fetched, but it’s not so blatant as to be distracting.  It’s also played a bit more knowingly tongue in cheek which helps with the watchability considerably.

Other than feeling a bit like a retread, thanks to Olympus has Fallen, this is a pretty decent action movie from disaster porn aficionado Roland Emmerich.  Surprisingly it does not suffer from an over abundance of explosions but rather being too heavy handed in the commentary department.  Sawyer is a thinly veiled movie version of Obama who just wants peace and harmony for the world if that’s not too much to ask.  That’s all well and good, but it paints a picture of anyone not in agreement with his ideals as being an evil villain or just plain stupid.  I’m ok with some political or societal commentary with my gun slinging, but it feels a little forced and out of place here.

Politics aside, the biggest issue here is feeling too familiar.  If you did not watch the mess of a movie that was Olympus has Fallen, that shouldn’t be a problem.  There are some quotable lines, well choreographed action, and all around likeable characters that come across as mostly intelligent for a change.  It’s a fun time but nothing to write home about.

Mrs. Hamster Says:

“A much better movie than Olympus has fallen – slightly more realistic.  Jamie Foxx makes a great president.  Channing Tatum and Joey King were good too.”

My Rating:  Three out of Five Hats

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Trailer

White House Down invades 3,222 theaters, June 28