[Movie Review] White House Down

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Remember my movie review on Olympus has Fallen?

Good news: White House Down is not that movie.

In fact this was the mostly bloodless, bang bang shoot’em up, fun PG-13 movie I’ve seen this summer.

Yes, my mother already mentioned that bang bang fun shoot’em up does not exactly go together.

Except if you’re director Roland Emmerich.

Die Hard in the White House part two begins with introducing us to several of our main characters which there are many. First up, Channing Tatum plays capital police officer John Cale protecting the Secretary of State Raphelson played by Richard Jenkins from an invading squirrels at his bird feeder.

Meanwhile, President Sawyer played by Jamie Foxx is coming home after giving a speech about pulling all the troops out of the Middle East something that has ruffled too many feathers. Maggie Gyllenhaal has the thankless job of Secret Service Agent Finnerty and along with James Woods playing retiring boss Walker shows life in the White House before the festivities begin.

John has dreams of becoming Secret Service and decides to kill two birds with one stone, get an interview with the secret service boss and bring his politico junkie daughter, Emily played by Joey King to the White House for a tour.

The tour is stopped short when the capitol building is blown up from the inside and the White House goes into lock down while piece by piece the House is taken under control from the inside with Finnerty on the outside to coordinate with Lance Reddick’s General Caulfield (I was having Fringe flashbacks there for a bit) while Cale, his daughter, the tour group shown around by Donnie the tour guide played by Nicolas Wright are on the inside.

One of the leaders of the operation is Stenz played by Jason Clarke and welcome breath of fresh air after Dylan McDermott’s lack of plot in Olympus. He and his cronies of which there are many but the top three of second in charge, Motts played by Falk Hentschel, the guard dog of Killick played by Kevin Rankin and hacker Tyler played by Jimmi Simpson get enough screen time to make them rememberable.

Tatum and Foxx made a good team from Foxx playing the straight man and letting Tatum do the John Maclane thing which was perfect. I mentioned before good heroes and good villains make a movie and John is a good foil.

The practical SFX looked better than the CGI. The helicopter assault in broad daylight was probably the weakest part of the movie because while it just didn’t look real enough until they arrived at the White House. The chopper sequence in Die Hard was real enough but CGI Black Hawks moving down the streets should have been great but the CGI just didn’t cut it enough. I find it funny after all the weather crap in 2012 and Day After Tomorrow and they can’t get three choppers right?

Both movies, Olympus and White House have similar beats and scenes. The exception being that while Olympus’s first act is a tough act to follow, White House manages to keep the villains and their plan moving and continues to raise the stakes until the end. More than a few movies this summer have turned their calculating villain into a idiot. White House Down doesn’t do that thankfully.

Did I mention it also the bloodless, bang bang, shoot’em movie I’ve seen this summer? Second only to World War Z? This felt like the old school A-Team where loads of ammunition is expended, people die and not a lick of blood anywhere.

The good news is Emmerich keeps his feet mostly on the ground until the final act until there’s a moment straight out of The Rock but otherwise the movie was enjoyable and the underlying father/daughter plot felt right with the only minor exception of Emily’s patriotism being a bit too on the nose but I’m willing to ignore it.

Overall, worth the money and seeing it in theaters.

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