I recently attended a screening of Roland Emmerich’s (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) newest project, White House Down, and I was expectantly unimpressed. In short, it’s an under-performing, over-the-top, dramatic action-flick, but with a refreshing balance of humor and action. The only things White House Down delivers on is weak, unrealistic action and cheap thrills, but at the end of the day, it is a simple crowd pleaser.
While visiting the White House for a secret service interview, Capitol Policemen, John Cale (Channing Tatum) and his daughter, Emily (Joey King), end up on a White House tour at the same time the White House falls under attack. When a heavily armed military group overtakes the complex, Cale must save the president, his daughter, and ultimately the country. White House Down begins already feeling mediocre, but quickly escalates to unrealistic action sequences, weak special effects, and a gap-filled storyline.
White House Down simply falls short in a number of ways. First of all, the film looks extremely fake or overdone like a video game or animation. It’s not just the action scenes and special effects, but buildings, skylines, vehicles, and even people. Next, the film is jam packed with unrealistic action and chaotic action sequences as Cale and President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) combat the paramilitary invaders. I give the creators credit for attempting to make this story work, but it continues to fall short with poor execution, gaps in information and character motivation, and total incompetence of each fighting side.
However, White House Down does have a smattering of greatness, and you might even find yourself enjoying it at times. If you accept from the start that this film is going to be over-the-top and over-dramatic like the recent A Good Day To Die Hard, then you will not be disappointed but rather appreciate the strong cast, likeable characters, and the balance of action and humor. Unlike traditional action films involving minor corny dialogue and unnecessary one-liners, WHD goes all in on the humor, while remaining true to the action. This seems to pay off with many laugh-out-loud scenes and lighter action. A positive take away from the film is that it has heart, as it plays on themes of family and doing the right thing.
Films like this will naturally have numerous components to review or criticize, but if you’re simply looking to go to the movies and be entertained, White House Down plays on the basic instincts of its desired audience.
White House Down is rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and brief sexual image. Running time is 2 hours and 11 minutes. Rated 2.8 out of 5 stars.
By: Hayden Pittman
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Tags: 2012, Action, Channing Tatum, Film, Hayden Pittman, humor, Independence Day, Jamie Foxx, Joey King, military, movie review, President, Roland Emmerich, secret service, special effects, The Day After Tomorrow, U.S., WHD, White House, White House Down, youplusdallas