Film Review: White House Down
Directed by Roland Emmerich
The White House is never safe in Roland Emmerich’s hands — he pulverised it in Independence Day and 2012 — but this time instead of aliens or the climate, the trouble comes in the form of a ragtag group of right-wing sociopaths, hackers and white supremacists.
They infiltrate 1600 Pennsylvania Ave disguised as audio-visual experts installing a new home cinema (where, one imagines, the POTUS will watch big-budget fare just like this), then proceed to rack up a shameful body-count, take 61 people hostage, and demand $400 million and an airplane.
Handily, hunk-of-the-moment Channing Tatum is one of those hostages. Having just been in for a job interview with that sexy Maggie Gyllenhaal, a Secret Service honcho who gives him short shrift for his bad college grades (never mind his stellar tours of duty in Afghanistan), Tatum tries to impress his doubting, politically savvy daughter with a White House tour. Within moments, he’s stripped down to a vest (“Loses shirt in Act One” must be in his contract) and for the next couple of hours, he and the President, an Obamaesque Jamie Foxx, trade cute banter and play with rocket launchers while the bad guys get crazy with Black Hawks and missiles and — gasp — nuclear weapons.
It’s all completely stupid, but on the plus-side White House Down is about a billion times better than Olympus Has Fallen, the other action flick set at the President’s house this year, and a white singlet hasn’t looked this good on a chap since Die Hard.
Tatum’s character John Cale is surely a nod to Willis’ John McClane. He doesn’t have the brittle edge of Willis’s legendary character, but he has a dancer’s agility, and it’s fun to watch him dive along corridors and clamber up elevator shafts with his new best bud, the Prezzy, in tow.
Amid the bullets and bombastic effects, the most refreshing part of this Democrats’ wet dream of a film is Cale’s daughter, Emily (Joey King). She has no need for guns and knives; her weapons of choice are YouTube and a smartphone. Imagine how much less they’d have spent if they took Emily’s point-of-view all along.
Wait, what am I thinking? Hollywood would never get through a blockbuster season without destroying half of America’s monuments.