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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

White House Down (2013)


After this, I think Obama’s going to start hiring more male-strippers for around the office.

While Jeremy (Channing Tatum), an wannabe-Secret Service Agent member, is on a tour of the White House with his daughter (Joey King) in an attempt to win her love and support back, something crazy happens. No, not the fact that the President of the United States (Jamie Foxx) meets with the group and even talks to his daughter, but the actual fact that a bunch of terrorists, lead by a trusted Secret Secret member (James Woods) and a ruthless mercenary (Jason Clarke), have infiltrated the White House and are already making demands. Just about everybody in the White House gets either killed, leaves before shit goes bad, or is taken hostage, with the exception of Jeremy who finds that it’s no better time than to prove himself to the president, his daughter, as well as the rest of the world, than now.

Cue up the overly-dramatic action-score when you can.

First, we had Olympus Has Fallen, which wasn’t as bad as it seemed to look, and now we have this. Oh wait, scratch that! Firstly, we actually had Die Hard, and then these two came. Yeah, that’s about right. See, what it is about these flicks is that it doesn’t matter how much risky business you try to take with your premises, you’re always going to end-up being considered “a re-hash” or “unoriginal”. In this movie’s case, words like that are almost too hard to avoid, especially since Olympus Has Fallen has literally came out less than 4 months ago. That’s not to say that this flick loses points from the get-go for that reason and that reason alone, but it did make me wonder many times throughout the whole flick, “Didn’t I literally just see this?”

"Shit, please tell me they didn't just turn on Step Up 2."

“Shit, please tell me they didn’t just turn on Coach Carter.”

The answer to that hypothetical question is yes, and no. Yes, because the same plot-threads are shown in almost the same order, and no, because this movie is way, way, way, way more ridiculous than that one. Seriously, the idea that the White House would get taken over in the first place is pretty outlandish, but top off of everything else that happens in this movie after the 30-minute mark, then you got yourself bigger problems than you’d ever expect. Oh yeah, it gets silly. Real silly.

The setting-up of the story, the tension, and the suspension of belief is fine because Roland Emmerich knows the type of flick he’s about to hammer our brains with for the next 2 hours, so he probably felt like why waste our time right off the bat. However, once the terrorists invade, shit gets hot, and people start getting killed and taken-hostage, the movie gets insane, and not in the best way either. “Insane” in the type of way that it’s almost so crazy that all of this would happen, the way the movie tells it like happening, is almost too ridiculous and innate to take belief in. Then again, like I said, it is a movie directed by Roland Emmerich, who is not known for being smart, subtle, or even realistic for that matter; the dude just wants to see shit blow-up, by any means possible. Even if that means destroying every audience-member’s IQ level, then so be it.

But that’s what you can expect from Emmerich and when it comes to that aspect of the movie (the guns, the explosions, the mass-killings, etc.), the movie is as fun as you’re going to get for the rest of June and for the next couple of weeks (except for when this hits). People come to see a Roland Emmerich movie, to see a bunch of fun, unadulterated fun that you can’t quite get anywhere else; and if somebody argues against that point, you can definitely say that it’s probably the corniest-movie, you can’t seem to get anywhere else. That might just work because once the plot actually begins to thicken and more and more layers are added-on than you can even count on your plate, the movie becomes as stupid as you are going to expect it to get.

Everything from the convoluted terrorists’ plot, to the jawwing-sessions of the officers in the control offices, is all made out of pure randomness and stupidity, but it’s fun to watch, even if you’re laughing at the material and not with it, like Emmerich probably wants you to believe you can. Almost every character here seems like they have something to prove, whether it be an act of violence or an act of intelligence, and none of it ever rings true. It’s as if Emmerich knew how stale and cardboard these characters were, that he needed to give some of them a chance to strut their stuff, and show what it is that they bring to the table. Sort of like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies, where everybody gets a chance to shine so you can see why they matter and why you would actually feel some emotion if they have to get killed off in the next couple of minutes or so. However, comparing those two near-masterpieces, to this pile of cow-dung is almost an insult to Mr. Abrams, one that I hope he never sees or hears about.

If you are reading this, J.J., just to let you know: I loved Felicity. Please don’t remove my name from your contacts. Please!

Sweet, sweet America.

Sweet, sweet America.

With that said, it does call into question whether or not these wild cast of characters can actually handle Emmerich’s mostly-laughable material, and for the most part; some fare better than others, which is what we’re used to seeing with this guy’s films. Channing Tatum springs right into full-on, action-hero mode and is a fine fit as Jeremy, even if everything he pulls off throughout the movie (from the running-away from bullets, to the swan-diving into particular areas a normal human-being would practically be crippled after performing) is utterly ridiculous to watch, even when it’s Tatum performing them all. The dude’s got charm and likability, as I’ve always knew, but his character can only go on for so long until you start to realize that he’s just a one-note guy, without much else to him. The chemistry he has with Jamie Foxx is very good and feels real, especially because they seem to love the hell out of each other in real life. It works well in the film, but I feel like more scenes of them just talking, getting to know one another, and realizing how much they’re alike in ways a common-citizen and the president of the United States would never, ever know about beforehand, would have done them both better. Then again, I’m talking about a whole entirely, different flick with a different director and writer.

On the evil side of things, James Woods and Jason Clarke lead the band of baddies that take over the White House in the dumbest way possible, but still make for good villains because you feel their raw-intensity every time they’re on-screen. It’s probably cliche to even have Woods in a villainous-role, but the guy handles it well and with pride, whereas Clarke feels like he should have just had the whole movie to himself, mostly because he owns it as the main baddie, aka, the one that can actually kick-ass if he’s called on to do so. Starting with Lawless from last summer, to now, Clarke has really been showing his taste for versatility and it makes me wonder what else the guy’s got cooking up for him. I mean hell, when you can “out-evil” James Woods, the king of baddies, then you know you got promise, even in a schlock-fest like this.

Consensus: As over-the-top, stupid, random, insane, and idiotic as White House Down truly is at it’s core, it’s still the type of fun and crazy movie you can expect from a director like Roland Emmerich, even if his cast from the outside looking in, seems to hold so much more promise for the material.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"I'm going to find that bastard who stole my wad of $ bills, even if it's the last thing I do!"

“I’m going to find that bastard who stole my wad of dollar bills, even if it’s the last thing I do!”

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27 responses to “White House Down (2013)

  1. shazza91321 June 28, 2013 at 5:18 am

    How does anyone take Channing Tatum seriously? I don’t get it I would never see a movie starring him. He could be a costar but not the leading actor nope. Good review and funny. :)

  2. ninvoid99 June 28, 2013 at 5:46 am

    I’ll probably see this if it’s on TV though I’m not willing to sell Channing Tatum short. Give him the right material and the right filmmaker who can work around his limitations. The guy can deliver. He’s starting to win me over.

  3. keith7198 June 28, 2013 at 6:33 am

    The trailer for this looked totally idiotic. I mean Jaime Fox as the prez??? Kill me now.

  4. Pingback: White House Down (2013) | The Grand Shuckett

  5. hwrighttyndall June 28, 2013 at 11:34 am

    If you want to kill some time one night take the DVD for Die Hard and play it one TV with the audio up. Put Olympus Has Fallen on another TV with the audio off. Watch Olympus with Die Hard’s audio and it’s a scene for scene match. Just like The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

  6. Pingback: White House Down Review | The Filmster

  7. Erik (AngryVader) June 28, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Nice review, Dan. Man this is a stupid film, but I couldn’t help having some fun with it.

  8. teny June 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    It didn’t release here, and from what it seems, I might not have missed much :)

  9. allistercrow June 28, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    If the President was going to hire strippers…I love it
    I’m actually looking forward to the prospect of Pacific Rim as well (don’t know what it’s all about though)

  10. theuntoldtheunsaid June 28, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Great review! Have had enough of the White House movies. Can we have some originality please?

  11. Chris June 29, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Yes, this movie is ridiculous and over the top, but it has a certain charm to go along with it that elevates the whole thing beyond just another mediocre “rehash” the likes of which we got from Olympus Has Fallen. I personally loved the ever loving shit out of this movie, though, so I’m honestly expecting more people to have a reaction closer to yours than to mine anyways, lol. Good review, Dan. :)

    • CMrok93 July 7, 2013 at 6:52 am

      I didn’t hate it, but I will admit that it is very stupid and brainless to watch. Just don’t expect greatness and you’ll be pleased.

  12. 55theintimidator55 June 30, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Channing Tatum plays John Cale, not Jeremy. You should probably fix that or else it looks like you don’t know what you’re talking about. You need to watch this as a comedy rather than take every event to be entirely realistic. This movie clearly wasn’t going for realism, while Olympus Has Fallen aimed more towards that. This was aiming for a comedy/action combo.

  13. Pingback: White House Down: All Hail President Django | Rorschach Reviews

  14. Pingback: LAMBScores: White Heat | The Large Association of Movie Blogs

  15. Pingback: » Movie Review – Olympus Has Fallen Fernby Films

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