But White House Down does not take itself seriously, and that’s really the beauty of this film. It has an acute self-awareness and knows exactly what it’s trying to accomplish by destroying the White House; director Roland Emmerich’s specialty seems to be blowing up historic monuments and simulating huge catastrophes (see: 2012, The Day After Tomorrow).
You want rocket launchers? Got ’em. Explosions? Plenty of those. The president firing a machine gun and kicking a gunman in the face because he dared to put his hands on the president’s Jordans? Yep!
Our one-man wrecking machine Cale (Channing Tatum) interviews to become a member of the Secret Service, but unfortunately Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character tells him that he’s way underqualified for the job. What proceeds is the longest, most eventful job interview you’ll ever see.
A group of terrorists – white guys, including a couple of white supremacists, this time! – blow up the Capitol building and then proceed to overtake the White House, grabbing a group of tourists as hostages in the process. Cale and his precocious daughter (Joey King), who is totally head-over-heels for the White House and U.S. history, are among the hostages. Thanks to the unlimited amount of weaponry and ammunition they have somehow managed to get into the White House, the terrorists even manage to fight off the American military – when the military finally decides to take some action, that is.
Meanwhile, Jamie Foxx’s President Sawyer is clearly modeled after President Obama. He even has a drawer stacked with Nicorite gum to help him quit smoking, not unlike the current president. While he’s taken hostages by James Woods’ character, the head of the Secret Service (who’s so not here for the president’s peace plan with the Middle East), Cale shows up to defeat the bad guys, save the president, and look for his daughter – who went to the bathroom while all of this was going down.
There isn’t a whole lot of logic in White House Down. And there is a ton of violence, as various people get killed indiscriminately. But what it does have is great action sequences and humorous, tongue-in-cheek moments. If you’re looking for mindless entertainment, then White House Down – as long as you don’t take it too seriously – could be the movie for you.
- Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx
- Directed by: Roland Emmerich
- Running Time: 131 minutes
- Genre: Action