Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review 176: "White House Down"

"How do you lose a rocket launcher?"

Olympus Has Been Forgotten

      I can't help but wonder what White House Down will be remembered for after a couple years. Will it be for it's apparent box office failure (Currently set to come in 4th this weekend)? Will it be for that fact that it came out just a few months after the similar Olympus Has Fallen? Or will it be because it was a legitimately great action movie? Hopefully, it will be for the last one. Directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) and written by James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man), White House Down follows John Cale (Channing Tatum) who is looking to become a member of the Secret Service. He is taking his daughter, Emily (Joey King) for a tour of the white house, when a group of armed men lead by Stenz (Jason Clarke) take over the White House and take the tour hostage. While looking for his missing daughter, Cale accidentally rescues the President (Jamie Foxx) and teams up with secret service officer Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal) to get the President out. Cale must save the President and his daughter before it's too late.

President Bad-Ass.
Emmerich Action

      I've always been kinda in the middle with Roland Emmerich. Usually I find that his film's logical plot holes and stupidity where too much to make the strong action enough to save the films. Godzilla and 2012 are both god awful. Independence Day was his best film and even that was too cheesy for it's own good. That was until White House Down came along. It seems very easy to mistake this film for "Die Hard in the White House", but ultimately the film turns out to be more than that. It's a movie where it's clear that quite a bit of thought went into it before the whole "Let's blow sh*t up" parts where thought up. Yes, the action is great. Emmerich does have a good eye and the action sequences are often spectacular and just plain a lot of fun to watch. It's a film that keeps building on itself, challenging you to either go along with it's insane action or be left in the dust. I mean, the action scenes include a rocket launcher-heavy car chase on the White House lawn, a helicopter action scene and the President fist fighting over nuclear launch codes. Look, if that sounds fun to you, then see the movie. But if you scoffed at that and thought it sounded  silly, then best stay home this weekend.

The Moral of the Story

      But there's a lot more to White House Down than the action. For what could have been a brainless action endeavor, Emmerich actually has quite a few things to say about about politics, especially middle-eastern policies. Whether or not you agree with these ideas shouldn't matter, because, you know, it's a movie first and it's simply impressive that Emmerich includes political ideas in a film where the President fires a rocket out of his presidential limo. Of course, it helps though if you happen to agree with what he says. On top of that, a great cast rounds out the film very well. Foxx and Channing have great chemistry together and the movie gets laughs for the two of them very often. King manages to stay out of annoying kids territory (Mostly) and is a character you actually care about. James Woods is on hand to make the film more cheesy and therefore more fun. The cast works very well together and it's just a lot of fun watching them fight for freedom. It's also interesting the Clarke plays essentially the Dark World counterpart of his character in Zero Dark Thirty. In fact, the only real problem I had with the movie was that it is about 20 minutes too long and there were some points that felt mostly unnecessary. But those aren't really that big a deal.

It might seem weird, but that is how Channing normally
exits buildings.
The Verdict

      White House Down is the kind of movie where you just simply need to think. Does what you've seen in the trailers look good to you? Do you like what you hear in reviews? Then see the movie. The film combines awesome and smart actions sequences with a great cast, especially the two leads. On top of that, it's very funny and even gets a few political messages out there to at least think about for a little while. I personally though that White House Down was a ton of fun and one of the better action movies so far this year. Don't let anyone tell you it's a Die Hard rip-off. A Good Day to Die Hard was a rip-off. This is the real deal. White House Down gets 5 and a half stars out of 6.

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