Known disaster movie director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day & 2012) has returned to blowing up the White House in his latest mess of an action film — White House Down, starring Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum. White House Down is this year’s second invade-the-White-House film and easily the worst of the two, acting as the watered down and lame PG-13 approach to something that Olympus Has Fallen did so much better with an R-rating and probably half the budget.
Cale (Channing Tatum) is a father that tries his hardest to impress his daughter Emily (Joey King). He’s also trying pretty damn hard to land a gig as a member of the secret service at the White House, but he doesn’t listen well and would rather take action instead of following rules and procedure. This doesn’t get him very far in his job interview, which he fails with flying colors.
After his interview he decides to take his daughter for a tour of the White House, which ends in disaster as a group of invaders quickly takeover and start killing everyone in their path.
Now, Cale must both protect the president (Jamie Foxx) while also finding his daughter and bringing them both to safety. He’s on a bit of a time crunch and he’s not exactly sure who can be trusted, so he must use his own instincts and combat experience to not only save the day, but to save the entire country (and possibly world) from nuclear disaster.
Roland Emmerich‘s White House Down is the latest failed PG-13 action movie to come off what seems to be some sort of Hollywood assembly line. Emmerich simply taps into familiar grounds to try and deliver a film that’s relevant, funny and action-packed, but all he comes up with is forced humor and horrible-looking special effects sequences.
Emmerich is known for directing complete chaos and disaster — see 2012 or Independence Day, yet White House Down feels incredibly scaled back and bargain bin quality for a big-budget studio production. Almost all of the CGI looks fake, with renders that are far from polished and almost always stick out. The comedy rarely works, despite Channing Tatum charming his socks off with his clean-cut hair and well-oiled upper-body. He’s a nice enough guy, but one that only lands three out of every fifteen jokes.
Jamie Foxx is worse as the president. He’s channeling a man that’s firm in delivering a message, yet he needs to adjust his glasses before he can attempt to shoot a gun. Foxx’s humor is one hundred times worse than Tatum’s, because he’s clearly far out of his natural element. He’s just too young and too… Foxx to be portraying one of the world’s most boring presidents.
Jason Clarke gives the film hope as one of the central bad guys. The villains in this film aren’t all that important, yet Clarke gives the character Stenz enough room to stretch out and expand. Their motive is quite simple, even though Emmerich mixes up far too many ideas while trying to reach the same outcome. Still, Clarke comes out ahead of the game and gives us a character to really hate the shit out of.
My biggest complaints with White House Down are its running time and its lack of any new action. The film clocks in at a sluggish two hours and eleven minutes and the best thing Emmerich can come up with is a shootout on top of the White House.
Explosions are kept to a shocking minimum and most of the disaster is contained to inside the White House, which means Tatum getting into numerous gunfights and chases, which are filmed fine, but rarely spark out as anything that we haven’t seen before in a previous action film or even another Emmerich film.
There’s just nothing fun or exciting about White House Down and its almost frustrating discussing it for more than five minutes. The film establishes very little, moves slowly, looks like shit and is acted on an equally bad level. Emmerich can still wield a camera, but his VFX team clearly lost a step (or fifteen) while making this film and that’s a major problem for a movie that is selling itself as a popcorn flick with little plot and lots of action.
White House Down is a tedious and boring slog of a film, but above all else it feels extremely cheap and small, which is never a good thing when in the hands of Roland “disaster movie” Emmerich.
I knew it wasn’t going to top Olympus Has Fallen, but I never would have expected it to turn out this bad — it’s just too dull and afraid to take a single risk.
Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum give two downright embarrassing performances, while Emmerich fails to live up to the name that he’s built for himself over the years.
White House Down – 5.5/10