By Benjamin Lane
White House Down. (2013). Run Time: 137 mins. MPAA: PG-13 (for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image). Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gylenhaal, Richard Jenkins, and Jason Clarke. Written by James Vanderbilt. Directed by Roland Emmerich.
I think Roland Emmerich has something against the White House. The majority of his movies, which center around disastrous catastrophes, have a scene or plot point that features the home of the United States president going down. We saw it ever so clearly in Independence Day, it got washed away in 2012, and now it actually goes down in the aptly titled White House Down. Emmerich was the perfect choice for directing this one, and I’m sure he only had to hear the title to jump right in. So, if you have been following my blog, then you will know that I really, really liked Olympus Has Fallen, the first film to be released in 2013 that centered around the White House being taken over by terrorists. That movie was freaking awesome in all aspects. Just a breezy, fun, enjoyable popcorn flick that never took itself too seriously. That film starred Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman. White House Down stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, and Maggie Gylenhaal. Both have strong casts. One has strong execution. Let me just be blunt and get straight to the point: White House Down sucks.
Channing Tatum is a security guard who is really trying to make something of himself. He really is! Detect sarcasm? He wants his daughter, who is around 12, to appreciate him and to grow closer to him, even though when she was a child she climbed out of a pit and found her father and brought him to the pit to rescue Bane, then she grew up to return to Gotham and avenge her father’s death by having sex with Bruce Wayne to get closer to him then killing the Batman and destroying Gotham. Wait wrong movie. Anyway, Tatum’s daughter is played by little Talia in The Dark Knight Rises. Oh yeah, SPOILER ALERT. Seriously, if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises by now, where have you been? Moving on, Tatum has an interview for a job at the White House to be one of the president‘s secret service members, and while he’s in there he and his daughter split up for the same clichéd reason, and just when that happens terrorists take over the place and he has to use his skills to find her and rescue the president. Yawn. That’s all this movie is. A big yawn for so many reasons. Don’t get me wrong, it has its ups. As is typical with Roland Emmerich, some of the scenes of disaster look fantastic, and if you’ve seen the trailer you know what I’m talking about. Crumbling buildings in D.C. It’s marvelous. Jamie Foxx is hilarious as the president. Channing Tatum, who is getting to be a really good actor since he started working with Steven Soderbergh in 2012’s Haywire, Magic Mike, and this year’s Side Effects, was good in the movie, and combined, they have some really entertaining chemistry. Jason Clarke is someone I am growing to love since Zero Dark Thirty, and he was awesome as the antagonist in this film. And I enjoyed seeing Richard Jenkins, just because he’s Richard Jenkins and he’s awesome. There you go. That’s all I can applaud this movie for. The rest is just meh. Nothing absolutely horrific, but just plain dumb. You will lose brain cells while watching this movie.
The script for White House Down is just stupid! There is no reason to care for Channing Tatum’s character. In Olympus Has Fallen, at least there was a reason and a history, with Butler’s character feeling responsible for something that happened to the president, and it plagues him. In White House Down Channing Tatum shows up and we are just expected to care for him. Sorry Emmerich, I’m not buying what you’re selling. And how about Tatum’s daughter, played once again, by little Talia (yes I will just call her little Talia, I don’t even care about her name). She was fine in The Dark Knight Rises because she had no lines. My God. She is terrible in this movie. Sometimes the script calls for her to cry. Sometimes to fight with Tatum. Sometimes just be annoying. You won’t know the difference. She will just make you cringe.
FINAL VERDICT: It’s obvious Roland Emmerich is behind the camera for White House Down. Is it god awful? No. But it’s just too stupid to even keep on talking about. Basically, if you want to see this story unfold in a better way, just watch Olympus Has Fallen. I mean, that movie has an R rating, bloody violence, and Morgan Freeman. This one, just Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx trying to make funny jokes because even they aren’t sure what this movie is trying to be. It’s just dumb. (D+)