White House DownCultureCinemaMovie reviews
For Roland Emmerich, a director who seems to revel in capturing the cinematic destruction of the entire planet (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012), the shoot for White House Down must have been a cakewalk. His latest feature sees him trade global carnage and mayhem for the simple overthrowing of the American government.
This new action sees Channing Tatum playing a McClane reminiscent John Cale. A United States Capitol Police officer, John gets himself and his annoyingly precocious daughter (Joey King) caught up in a tricky situation when some angry all-American paramilitary types gatecrash President Sawyer’s (Jamie Foxx) White House. Largely failing in the US (where neither the box office receipts nor critical consensus make for pretty reading), White House Down arrives without much buzz, its reputation in tatters. This is a real misfortune as it’s one of the summer’s most unashamedly enjoyable outings.
While 2013’s other White-House-gets-trashed movie Olympus Has Fallen was a grim, violent and cheerless Die Hard derivative, White House Down takes the opposite path and embraces its own ridiculousness. Tatum and Foxx make for a highly likeable, engaging onscreen duo, and the gags fly around like bullets. While the content is one of chaotic wreckage, the tone is light-hearted with its tongue never out of its cheek for long.
Of course, it has its flaws. The villains are so cheaply rendered that they might as well have all come wearing black hats. Instead, the tech-nerd (Jimmi Simpson) has full-on Jeffrey Dahmer glasses, the deranged paramilitary insurgent (Kevin Rankin) sports an undeniably OTT redneck accent and moustache, and one poor sod gets lumbered with the ultimate bad-guy tell of being James Woods.
Obviously, the narrative isn’t even close to being original – there’s nothing here that hasn’t already been covered in at least one episode of 24. The final act features so many plot points lifted straight from that 1988 Bruce Willis classic that you’ll wonder just how the screenwriter hasn’t been hit with plagiarism charges. Though it does, at least, attempt to keep one late plot twist up its sleeve, you’ll have seen it coming a mile away. By the time the big twist eventually arrives, you’ll probably have had just enough of the increasingly nonsensical carnage – but what fun carnage it is.
White House Down is released nationwide on 13th September 2013.
Watch the trailer for White House Down here: