White House Down, the second of this year’s ‘White House in peril’ features sees action maestro Roland Emmerich behind the camera hoping that Olympus Has Fallen is just a distant memory to cinemagoers. Fortunately, White House Down brings a greater sense of fun and well-orchestrated chaos to the fold, making it the superior of the two.
White House Down centres on aspiring secret service agent John Cale (Channing Tatum) as he embarks upon a tour of the White House with his daughter. However, when a group of armed invaders overrun the complex it is up to Cale to protect both the President (Jamie Foxx) and his head-smart daughter.
Whilst staying well clear from any new territory, White House Down has a lot of fun playing with action clichés. It is formulaic (Die Hard in the White House is probably the most apt/laziest comparison), but ultimately in the hand of a seasoned professional like Roland Emmerich, it is highly entertaining. Narrative depth and originality are put aside for an array of frenzied stunts and half-baked plot devices shared with almost every Hollywood action film from the 1980’s onwards – but if willing to embrace these shortcomings there is a lot of fun to be had.
Of the film’s ample set pieces, Emmerich seems to gain most pleasure by having the Presidential Limousine crash its way through the White House grounds or by having Jamie Foxx’s gung-ho President firing bazookas left right and centre. There are also plenty of frenzied shoot-outs through the building’s corridors and malevolent bespectacled villains setting off nuclear devices.
However, it is the camaraderie between Foxx and Tatum that ultimately carries Emmerich’s feature. Both actor’s have a strong sense of comedic timing and the banter between the pair feels fresh and consistently amusing – as can be seen through Tatum’s remarks like “How do you lose a rocket launcher?” Whilst the vest-clad Tatum feels convincing in the role, Foxx – whilst enjoyable to watch, is the most unrealistic cinematic President since Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter as showcased in the film’s ‘Air Jordans’ scene.
A hammy and snarling James Woods provides some welcome scene chewing to the proceedings, despite occasionally being lost in the film’s explosive chaos alongside Richard Jenkins and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
White House Down is consistently entertaining without resorting to the faux-patriotism or xenophobic violence of Olympus Has Fallen. Emmerich’s focus on well-orchestrated action chaos and the banter between the amusing Tatum and Foxx makes-up for the film’s narrative shortcomings.
3.5/ 5 Stars
Release: 13th of September 2013
Certificate: 12A (UK)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Richard Jenkins,Maggie Gyllenhaal