White House Down

White House Down


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Given that the director Roland Emmerich has been responsible for speciality high concept actioners such as Independence Day and 2012, you know precisely what to expect from White House Down: skimpy and implausible plotting, a barrage of breathtaking special effects and characters that barely go skin deep.

As everyman hero John Cale, Channing Tatum makes an appealing star turn, even if he's a tad taciturn. His character works as security for the Speaker of the House yet he longs to climb up the ladder to work as a Secret Service agent for the President.

Copy picture

This would impress his 11-year-old daughter (Joey King) who has a healthy and intelligent interest in politics. While he's taking her on a tour of the White House after his job interview, a group of mercenaries arrive and the buildings are locked down. Father and daughter become separated and while trying to find her he stumbles upon the President (Jamie Foxx) taking refuge. Tatum's mission is to keep the President safe and rescue his daughter. Both men bond quickly while bemoaning the foibles of teenage girls.

Emmerich sensibly leaves little time for the audience to reflect on any of the twists and turns, some of which have more holes than a piece of Emmental. You can see where most of the 150 million dollar budget has gone with truly spectacular explosions and an extremely realistic looking White House ripe for demolition.

Foxx brings a wry humour to the overtly Obama-esque commander-in-chief, a self-styled Lincolnian who takes a delight in buzzing the Lincoln Memorial in Marine One and carries a pocket watch that once belonged to Honest Abe himself (a life-saver as it turns out in one of the attacks). His controversial plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from the Middle East has caused ructions among the Military.

Meanwhile, it emerges that Cale has done three tours of duty in Afghanistan when he saved the life of a fellow soldier, whose uncle happens to be the Speaker of the House (Richard Jenkins), who gave him a leg up in the security service. Cale’s personal life is all washed up and he's looking for a new start, although Special Agent Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a former college classmate, seems none too impressed.

Once the explosions begin to kick in, the film concentrates on Tatum and Foxx on the run - an easy-going and watchable pairing that displays real chemistry.

Down the cast list, James Woods does a stalwart turn as a Secret Service chief who is also mixed up in the plot to oust the President and take over the world.

Audiences who go along for the ride and suspend disbelief may derive some rewards from the fray but the risible dialogue is a significant drawback.

Reviewed on: 01 Sep 2013
Share this with others on...
An off-duty police officer touring the White House with his daughter is the only man who can save the President when terrorists attack.
Amazon link

Director: Roland Emmerich

Writer: James Vanderbilt

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Joey King

Year: 2013

Runtime: 113 minutes

Country: US


Deauville 2013

Search database:

Related Articles:

Long live the blockbuster