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Tatum and Foxx Guard the White House – A review of White House Down
Title: White House Down
Production Company: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Run Time: 131 minutes
Director: Roland Emmerich
Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods
Summary: More fun than Olympus Has Fallen. A predictable but entertaining tale of intrigue when the President and the White House staff are captured by domestic terrorists.
If a movie today is helmed by Roland Emmerich, you can generally expect it to be larger than life and filled with gunshots, explosives and otherwise destructive effects.
This movie, though, is on a decidedly less global scale than most of Emmerich’s previous endeavors. You see, he’s the brainchild behind such devastating big screen fare like Independence Day, 2012 and the US remake of uber-movie monster Godzilla.
Channing Tatum stars as secret service agent wannabe John Cale, whose efforts to impress his estranged daughter include getting her passes to visit the White House (interestingly enough, despite the economic problems faced by THIS president (Jamie Foxx), no sequestration has closed down the tours to the national landmark).
In typical Emmerich fashion, what starts out as an ordinary day will eventually deteriorate into a shoot ‘em up tale of strength and survivalism that will put all the good characters in jeopardy and all the bad guys will be rendered cocky and overconfident, the perfect combination for a thrilling two hours at the movies.
There is absolutely nothing in this movie that should surprise anyone who is a fan of action adventure movies. Of course Tatum will be at odds with the beautiful head of the secret service detail guarding the President (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Of course the President, who has no combat experience, will pick up a machine gun and shoot at bad guys. Of course the life of Cale’s eleven year old daughter will be threatened, but she will still verbally spit in the eye of the man who could potentially end her young existence.
And of course we know exactly how this blockbuster will end. Picking out the bad guys here will not require a scorecard. Keeping track of the body count will.
One thing that can definitely be said, though, is that this ride is plain fun. Unlike Olympus Has Fallen from a few months back, this movie isn’t pretentious and the heroes aren’t as self absorbed as they were in that other blockbuster. Movies like this require lighter moments to alleviate the tension. And this film garners more than a few laughs and humorous moments.
Several years back, I had the privilege of taking one of the White House tours and enjoyed the information that was shared by the tour guide. I do not recall the overt humor in the tour that is a hallmark of the guide’s presentation here. As a result, Nicolas Wright unintentionally manages to steal this movie from all of his big name co-stars.
But the real treats to watch here are veteran actors like Foxx, James Woods and Richard Jenkins who manage to convince us that it doesn’t take highbrow fare and compelling script writing to entertain. All it takes is two hours, suspension of disbelief, a great collection of stunts and explosions, a prominent action director and several in-jokes referencing the destruction of the White House in Independence Day and you have the makings of a fun diversion on a summer afternoon.
I give White House Down 3-1/2 out of 4 stars.