Review: White House Down

With its Die Hard-in-the-White-House premise already taken out in a pre-emptive strike by Olympus Has Fallen earlier this year, White House Down suddenly had to do more than just rely on its high concept. That’s something it almost sorta does, thanks in part to director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) – who’s never met an outlandish blockbuster idea he and a billion people didn’t like – but mostly due to a cast that does much of the heavy lifting.

Like Bruce Willis before him, Channing Tatum brings a now-familiar Hollywood persona to the white-singleted, baddie-killing role (called John Cale for goodness’ sake, the film hardly going to great lengths to distinguish him from Willis’ John McClane). Cale’s stock-in-trade is goofiness rather than McClane’s world-weariness, though they share damn near every other characteristic from muttering monologues to past marital discord.

Cale’s relationship with President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx), forged as they evade gun-toting White House invaders, has its nice moments if never managing to hit the buddy-cop levels of laughs or mate-ship I was hoping for. Elsewhere, amidst the familiar plan-within-a-plan story that unfolds, Emmerich peppers the screen with solid casting choices – James Woods, Jason Clarke, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Richard Jenkins who all wisely resist the urge to ham things up and add more to the film than a typical batch of supporting players.

Don’t expect anything approaching heavy drama or realism though, or gritty action for that matter, White House Down’s fight scenes merely serviceable (playing it safe with the ratings board) as are its thrills and levels of tension. Thankfully when Emmerich goes for laughs the film doesn’t stray into piss-take, and combined with the aforementioned performances the result is a safe, pleasantly entertaining mainstream flick.

‘White House Down’ Movie Times