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Movie review: White House Down

Updated on September 4, 2013

You wouldn’t want to be the president of the USA at the moment, not for any socio-political issues though; this year has seen two attacks on the president’s home in Washington DC on the big screen, but this one is by far the most devastating.

Some would think that being part of the security detail for the Speaker of the house would be a pretty cool job, but not John Cale (Channing Tatum). His dream job would be working for the secret service and looking after the main man himself – the president.

He actually gets an interview for such a position; as his young daughter Emily (Joey King) is oddly interested in all things politics, John manages to swing a couple of passes so his daughter can come with. And let’s face it, there’s nothing unusual about taking your daughter to a job interview, even one at the White House.

As it transpires, John actually knows the person interviewing him, but it sadly doesn't help his cause and it doesn't go particularly well . So as a means of cheering himself and his daughter up, they join a group about to take a tour of the house.

In what has to be a really bit of bad luck, on the very day that John and his daughter find themselves in the White House, the building just so happens to come under attack; a well-trained group descend upon the grounds and building with military precision and soon have the White House under their control. But they didn’t count on having John McClane- sorry, John Cale in the House, and with not only the president and his daughter under threat, he plans on doing all he can to keep them both safe.

Only someone like director Roland Emmerich can make a film that makes all his previous efforts – Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow - all far more believable than this incredulous effort.

Where recent White House under attack flick Olympus Has Fallen could easily be described as Die Hard at the White House, White House Down is more Spy Hard at the White House. It's so bad you could be forgiven for thinking it is a parody.

The script, the acting, the action, the story –every single element of this poor excuse for a blockbuster should be highly embarrassed for the damning part they played in this mess.

Tatum should be really disappointed; it's definitely a two-step-back scenario as far as his career is concerned, he was doing so well too. And Emmerich must have something pretty bad hanging over Foxx for him to agree to do this, as he puts in a truly below performance.

Everything that Olympus Has Fallen did right, White House Down has done the opposite. For instance, at one point, for no explicable reason, Tatum's character strips down to a white vest; clearly it's a nod to John McClane, but in the context of the film, it just doesn't make sense. It has the same kind of subtlety as a porn film when the leading 'actress' announces that it's so hot that she has to take her top off.

There is a tipping point in the film where it becomes so bad a watch, it becomes perversely entertaining; when you reach this point will mostly depend on your pain threshold, but it will undoubtedly happen – sooner rather than later.

Emmerich is famed for making disaster films, and although this one isn't defined as one as such by genre, it most certainly is by tragic content.

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If you had to see the White House fall, which movie version would you prefer?

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