Film Review: White House Down (2013)

White House Down (2013)
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: James Vanderbilt
Rated: PG-13

Rating: 3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

White House Down (2013) posterI’m pretty sure that Roland Emmerich made this movie because he wanted to revisit the White House after blowing the crap out of it in Independence Day. I’m glad he did – I had a blast watching this mindless (but not mind-numbing) movie. The plot and it’s details are, of course, ridiculous. Just suspend your disbelief and enjoy the action.

Tatum plays Cale, a Capitol policeman who is trying to land a Secret Service job, not just for the career move but to also impress his otherwise unimpressed daughter. She is very much into politics and is thrilled to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the White House. It’s naturally a fateful day – it’s the day that the head of the Secret Service (played by James Woods) decides to take over the White House and start killing people. (My only real complaint with the plot is the reason for the takeover, which felt far too much like The Rock to me. Though now that I type this, the ending is pretty similar too with the fighter jets …)

Through what ultimately comes down to sheer luck, Cale finds himself in a position to take out one of the bad guys, steal his gun, and go Die Hard in the White House. There’s climbing through an elevator, there’s a mad car chase across the White House lawns, there’s giant explosions for no real good reason. It’s dumb, and it’s fun.

Cale’s daughter was in the restroom at the time that the attack began, and actually uses her cell phone, which I so rarely see in movies like this. The video makes it out to the internet before the gunmen can capture her and toss her in with the rest of the hostages. Cale, meanwhile, is simultaneously searching for his daughter while trying to protect the President. The head of the VP’s detail (Gyllenhaal) made it out of the White House before the attack and manages to get in touch with Cale to help see things through.

Wow. The more I think about this as I type, I’m realizing this movie is a mash up of The Rock and Die Hard. There’s really nothing else to it – it’s those two movies. I’m a little annoyed that I didn’t realize it until just now but there it is. There’s a guy (McClane/Cale) as the sole hero in a hostage situation who manages to evade the gunmen over and over again despite not having the same level of training, who is in touch with another “colleague” (Al the cop/Gyllenhaal’s character) who is fighting for that person against a system that wants to approach the situation differently … and that hero is up against an ex-military crew who is feigning a move for a lot of money but really there’s something else going on (The Rock).

I have to keep my rating at 3 stars – I did have a fun time watching it – even if it is a subpar version of two far superior action films.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qz33ICD7pqE

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