Friday, June 28, 2013

WHITE HOUSE DOWN: More Fun Than It Has A Right To Be

 Opening today at a multiplex near you:

WHITE HOUSE DOWN (Dir. Roland Emmerich, 2013)

So, yeah, it shares the same premise, and pretty much the same title as OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN from earlier this year (Olympus being the fictional code name for the White House in that movie), but Roland Emmerich’s WHITE HOUSE DOWN is bigger, dumber, and a lot more fun than that like-minded Gerald Butler action vehicle. 

They’re both stupid, but if watching OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN makes you shake your head, watching WHITE HOUSE DOWN makes you laugh out loud while you're shaking your head.

In Emmerich’s much more preferable take on the DIE HARD meets AIR FORCE ONE formula, Jamie Foxx is the President, Channing Tatum his Secret Service savior against an attack on the White House by a domestic paramilitary group. Actually, Tatum isn’t in the Secret Service; he just happens to be there applying for the job shortly before the hostile takeover occurs. 

Tatum gets turned down for the position by Maggie Gyllenhaal, as the chief Secret Service supervisor or something, so he takes his daughter (12-year old Joey King, who looks kinda like a tiny Sandra Bernhard) on a tour of the famous Pennsylvania Avenue residence.

Foxx (going from freed slave in DJANGO UNCHAINED to the Commander in Chief in six months - now there's an American success story!) is established right up front as a noble, dignified peace-seeking President of the people. 

Of course, one can’t help but think of Obama, especially when Foxx chews nicotine gum and mimics a few familiar mannerisms, but there’s no real statement being made here about our current administration, it’s just all in good fun.

Of course there’s corruption among all the President’s men with James Woods, seemingly reprising his role as H.R. Haldeman from Oliver Stone's NIXON, being the first baddie we can identify as a retiring Head of Presidential Detail who orchestrates the evil plan because he blames Foxx for the death of his son in the Middle East.

So Tatum’s tour group is taken hostage, and you know the DIE HARD drill - most of the action has Tatum, who strips down to the Bruce Willis-style wife beater tank top, and Foxx running around dodging machine gun bullets, getting into brutal fist fights, talking on walkie talkies, and making heroic wise-cracks all over the rooms, and hallways of the historical house.

There’s even a hilarious SUV chase all over the White House lawn to break up all the inside scenes. The leader of the thugs they fight, ZERO DARK THIRTY’s Jason Clarke is a particularly good bad guy, who gets angrier as the body count of baddies rises – these guys are usually related to each other or real close so there’s that revenge incentive growing.

Everybody appears to know how silly this all is, but they play every action movie cliché with a straight face, and that results in many genuine laughs, even if at times you can’t tell if something is intentionally funny or unintentionally funny. This move gleefully doesn’t care about the difference.

An incidental character, a know-it-all White House tour guide played by Nicholas Wright is responsible for some amusing moments as he’s personally offended by the thugs’ destruction of the house’s priceless artifacts. Michael Murphy has a thankless nothing role as the Vice President, who spends the movie aboard Air Force One, but Richard Jenkins has a better part as the Speaker of the House, but it’s a pretty transparent role too.

No matter, they’re just well-oiled parts of this machine of a movie that I bet movie-goers will enjoy than most of the other big ass offerings out there (WORLD WAR Z, MAN OF STEEL, and STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, I’m looking in your direction). Emmerich has made big dumb disaster flicks before (INDEPENDENCE DAY, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, 2012), but this one has more appeal due to it tongue in cheek tone, and its confidently corny approach.

I’m tempted to call WHITE HOUSE DOWN the summer’s best brainless blockbuster wannabe, but then I haven’t seen FAST & FURIOUS 6 yet. So I’ll just say that it’s a gloriously stupid good time at the movies this summer (just in time for 4th of July celebrating), and a better DIE HARD movie than the last actual DIE HARD movie.

More later...

1 comment:

Ramadan said...

good action but not anywhere near a strong plot to back the action typical american white house attack movie u may instead choose from other strong action flicks like iron man shooter etc.