White House Down
- Rob Carnevale
- 9 September 2013
A brainless, tedious action movie in the Die Hard template, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx
The third movie this year to be based on the Die Hard template (after A Good Day To Die Hard and Olympus Has Fallen), White House Down is yet another disappointment despite offering the brightest hope. Director Roland Emmerich has good form for laying waste to American monuments in spectacularly enjoyable fashion, while the strong A-list cast includes Channing Tatum, James Woods, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Richard Jenkins. But whereas Olympus Has Fallen (this year's other White House-set action movie) took itself a little too seriously on occasion, this one comes over a little too glib and teen audience-friendly, with clumsy attempts to combine hot button political issues with dumb summer spectacle.
Capitol policeman Cale (Tatum) is at the White House to try and land a job with the Secret Service; he's also taken his young daughter along in a bid to impress her. While there, terrorists take over the building, father and daughter become separated and it’s left to Cale to save the day by both saving the life of the President (Foxx) and rescuing his little girl.
To be fair, Emmerich’s film does display a knowing sense of its own absurdity and some suitably impressive pyrotechnics, especially during the initial hostile takeover and in an utterly stupid car chase around the White House lawn. But the film never knows when to stop and overdoes the action sequences, with one dumb showdown after another. Characters (and the actors playing them) get lost in the mix or weighed down by the film’s ham-fisted patriotism, resulting in a brainless, tedious experience.