It’s kind of hard to take a movie seriously when it’s not even taking itself seriously. ‘White House Down’ is the second white house takeover film that has been released this year, with the first being ‘Olympus Has Fallen.’ Basically, if you saw ‘Olympus Has Fallen,’ then you have no real reason to see this film. Having not seen ‘Olympus Has Fallen,’ I chose to see this because, let’s face it, who can pass up a free movie? Anyways, ‘White House Down’ takes a serious concept of a man trying to rescue the President of the United States from a group of American terrorists and makes it more comedic than one would or could expect. If you’re not a fan of thrillers that treats themselves like cheesy and over the top action movies, then this is not the film for you. However if you’re able to suspend disbelief for 2 hours and check your brain in at the lobby door, then you’ll probably have a fun time with this movie. As stupid, predictable, cheesy, and over the top ‘White House Down is,’ it is a fun time at the movies and nothing more than mindless entertainment, aka the perfect formula for a summer movie.
John Cale is a man who is struggling to find a decent job and have his 11 year old daughter Emily like him. The one way he feels is the way to connect with his daughter is to bring her to The White House on the day he goes to apply for a position in the Secret Service, since his daughter is a freak about all things politics. Due to his past jobs, lines of education, and things like that, John is denied the job, but of course he can’t lie to his daughter about that. Before the two are able to leave the building, though, a group of American terrorists blow up the Capitol, invade the White House, and take everyone hostage. John is able to escape and, knowing a thing or two about guns and combat, is able to locate President James Sawyer and rescue him from the terrorists. Refusing to leave without his daughter, though, John decides to attempt to rescue Emily from these evil men, and President Sawyer joins him for the ride. As the clock winds down quickly, the two men realize they’re caught up in a bigger terrorist plan than any of them anticipated.
In all honesty, there isn’t really much to talk about in regards to the acting. Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, along with the rest of the cast, all gave fine performances. None were bad per say, but they weren’t Oscar worthy performances at the same time. Even the direction by Roland Emmerich was fine for what it was. The big action scenes are fun for a big screen film, despite some of them being CGI rather than actual stunts performed. As someone who enjoys ‘2012‘ to an extent, Emmerich did a decent job directing this flick. Plus, who can resist huge explosions on a big screen that keep the audience’s attention for over 2 hours? The big thing to really talk about regarding this movie is James Vanderbilt’s script.
Vanderbilt is probably best known for writing the screenplays for ‘Zodiac,’ ‘The Losers,’ and most recently ‘The Amazing Spider-Man.’ The main problem with the film is that it’s so absurd and stupid that it almost insults the intelligence of its audience. It would have been nice if this film did take itself seriously, but sadly it almost treats itself like a spoof film of sorts. At the same time, though, those who take this film seriously are not a part of its target audience. As dumb and cliched as the movie is, it is still a fun ride for those who check their brain in at the lobby door. Still, this movie could have and should have been more intelligent and clever rather than dumb and over the top.
‘White House Down’ is the type of movie that isn’t clever or anything original, but it is a fun time at the movies as a whole. Sure, it’s absurd and over the top and acts like an 80s action film, but that isn’t entirely a bad thing. Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx are good leads and have solid chemistry together. In fact, all of the acting in the film is solid, though not award worthy by any means. The direction from Roland Emmerich is good for a big budget action movie, and he tries to do nothing more than to make a fun action movie. Screenwriter James Vanderbilt could have made this film a gripping and intelligent thriller like ‘Zodiac,’ but it did seem like he had a fun time writing a predictable and cheesy White House thriller. As stupid as ‘White House Down’ is as a whole, it is a silly, mindless, and fun thriller that is a nice way to take your mind off of serious things and watch tons of explosions and listen to mediocre jokes instead. That alone is worth the price of a matinee ticket.