8 sept. 2013

My Review: White House Down (6/10)

"My father is a very special man."

White House Down might suffer from a terrible plot and loud action scenes we've seen a million times before, but the leads have such great chemistry together that this movie was actually entertaining. I'm giving Roland Emmerich a passing grade for the first time since his 2000 film The Patriot. I've disliked pretty much every film he's made since (2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and 10,000 BC), but for the first time Emmerich barely redeems himself thanks to strong performances from Foxx and Tatum. This is the second film coming out this year about the White House being under siege where the president is taken hostage and one man has to save the day. Olympus Has Fallen starred Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart. The action sequences in that film might have been a little better than White House Down, but I didn't like that movie because it took itself too seriously despite the ridiculous plot. What Emmerich has going for him here is that he knows the film is silly and that everything is pretty much formulaic, but he has fun with the story. He lets these two lead roles play with cliches and simply entertain the audience with their over the top performances. In a way this film felt a lot like Independence Day and those 90 films I enjoyed so much. It's not a Die Hard film, but it does pretty much live up to films like Air Force One and has a little more fun with the familiar story. We know pretty much everything that's going to happen in this film; it is very predictable, but somehow it manages to have fun with everything and never tries to takes itself seriously. Tatum has such great comedic timing that he really steals the show here. This is a summer popcorn film that is loaded with entertaining and funny scenes, but has very little depth to it. Unfortunately the film is way too long and has a preposterous final act. Despite it all, I still enjoyed White House Down and had a decent time.

Former military, John Cale (Channing Tatum), works as a Capitol policeman but thanks to a contact he gets a job interview with the Secret Service for the President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). He doesn't get the job, but he takes advantage of his interview to take his young daughter Emily (Joey King) on a tour through the White House. She is a huge admirer of the President and is having her dream day, but all of a sudden the place is attacked by a group of heavily armed paramilitary men who take everyone hostage. The head of the president's security, Walker (James Wood), is behind the attack. John prevents Walker from taking him hostage and hides out with the President inside while finding a way to escape and at the same time rescue his daughter from the dangerous paramilitary group led by Stenz (Jason Clarke). Cale gets through with the Pentagon from the inside and is permanently in communication with Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who tries to guide him and the President to safety. Cale and the President will have to team up in order to disrupt Walker's destructive plan. Among the talented cast we have supporting works from Richard Jenkins, Nicolas Wright, and Peter Jacobson.

I don't blame those who didn't like White House Down because I can see why they hated it. The premise is really silly and the movie is way too long with a very ridiculous final act. I enjoyed the film mostly because the actors seemed to be taking their roles very lightly and having fun with the material given. Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx worked extremely well together and shared some very funny scenes. Their chemistry is what made this film worthwhile for me. The film isn't as good as Die Hard, but I thought it took a similar approach and that is what worked for Emmerich this time. Tatum is a bankable actor and has been on a role lately (21 Jump Street and Magic Mike). The film is worth watching for this alone, just don't go into this film expecting an intelligent action film.

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