Retrospective: Battle Of The Two "Die Hard In The White House" Action Movies | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Retrospective: Battle Of The Two "Die Hard In The White House" Action Movies


This year, we have not one but two head-to-head competitions for the similarly-themed "Die Hard in the White House" action thrillers. On March, we have OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN which followed by WHITE HOUSE DOWN three months later on June. I have watched both of them and they are entertaining enough in their own rights. But when comes to comparison, which movie emerges as the best "Die Hard in the White House" action thriller this year? Here's my detailed analysis below:


THE LONE HERO

 Now how do I look? Do I look serious enough, hmm?

Gerard Butler as Mike Banning

WHAT IS SO GOOD ABOUT HIM?

It's been a long while since Gerard Butler made an impact at the box office. After his breakthrough success in Zack Snyder's 300 (2006), his subsequent roles were ultimately dwindled with plenty of half-baked action movies (e.g. GAMER) and it's kinda annoying to see relegated to romantic comedies (e.g. THE BOUNTY HUNTER, PLAYING FOR KEEPS). But his highly-anticipated return to gritty action role as a disgraced Secret Service agent Mike Banning in OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is seriously a cause for celebration. As a no-nonsense hero, Butler displays an engaging presence here and no doubt it was one of his most entertaining performances to date since 300.

 Oh, shit! I forgot to turn off the stove in my kitchen... be right back, guys!

Channing Tatum as John Cale

WHAT IS SO GOOD ABOUT HIM?

When I first caught Channing Tatum's breakthrough performance in 2006's STEP UP, I thought he was just another hunky pretty boy who depends on looks. But as years goes by, Tatum has emerged as one of the most sought-after Hollywood actors working today. He can easily morphed into different characters from playing action roles (G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA, G.I. JOE: RETALIATION), romantic roles (DEAR JOHN, THE VOW), dramatic roles (STOP-LOSS, SIDE EFFECTS) to comedy roles (21 JUMP STREET, MAGIC MIKE) with varying degree of successes. In WHITE HOUSE DOWN, he certainly does Bruce Willis proud for convincingly tackled an everyman action hero as John Cale. If the studio decides to reboot DIE HARD movie one day, I personally think that Tatum is the man to go for.

SO WHO EMERGES AS THE WINNER?

Personally, I thought both of them are great. You know, like 50-50. So it's a tie for me.

THE PRESIDENT

 Now, I believe in Harvey... wait, sorry. My bad.

Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher

WHAT IS SO GOOD ABOUT HIM?

Aaron Eckhart is spot-on as a tough and no-nonsense President Benjamin Asher. After all, Eckhart is always good when comes to a role that requires him to play dead-serious performance.

What do you just say? I'm an unexceptional n...
Jamie Foxx as President James Sawyer

WHAT IS SO GOOD ABOUT HIM?

Unlike the intense performance from Aaron Eckhart, Jamie Foxx is somewhat laidback and more charismatic as President James Sawyer. In WHITE HOUSE DOWN, he shows a lot of lighter side and knows a lot about comic timing. Like I mentioned before in my review, Foxx's role is gotta be the funniest presidential role I've ever seen in a movie.

SO WHO EMERGES AS THE WINNER?

It's Jamie Foxx! Don't get me wrong, Eckhart is as good as well but his performance is sometimes too one-sided for his own good. Foxx, on the other hand, manages to balance out for being serious, charismatic and funny as well.

THE BAD GUY(S)

 Now, repeat after me. Kang Yeonsak is the new President of the United States.

Rick Yune as Kang Yeonsak

He's no stranger in playing bad guy role, and in OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, he is just as good as tackling a no-nonsense North Korean terrorist who is not afraid to get his hands dirty. His brutal one-on-one fight against Gerard Butler's Mike Banning that ends up with an ugly death is among the movie's highlight.

 What? You are firing me because I'm standing inside your office, Mr. President?

James Woods as Walker and Jason Clarke as Stenz

Playing bad guy is one of James Woods' forte and he's as equally slimy as he used to be in WHITE HOUSE DOWN, even though I must admit he's kinda rusty nowadays. As Stenz, Jason Clarke is ferocious enough as the impatient and angst-ridden head of mercenary.

SO WHO EMERGES AS THE WINNER?

Both of the villainous roles in OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN and WHITE HOUSE DOWN are as good as they can get. But if narrowed down to a clear winner, I have to pick James Woods and Jason Clarke for their more meaty and colorful performances in WHITE HOUSE DOWN.

THE DIRECTION

 Okay, Morgan.. you see that Batman there giving you a finger? Now show me your intense look.

Antoine Fuqua

WHAT IS SO GOOD ABOUT HIM?

Fuqua's direction in OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is often hard-hitting and he certainly made the best use of the R-rating to execute some violent set-pieces.

 Okay, guys. I'm planning to add some aliens and natural disasters in this movie. Anyone's okay with my idea? Anyone?

Roland Emmerich

WHAT IS SO GOOD ABOUT HIM?

Ironically, this is Roland Emmerich's first foray in an action genre because previously, he was often known as the director who made sci-fi and disaster-themed blockbusters (e.g. INDEPENDENCE DAY, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, 2012). His direction here in WHITE HOUSE DOWN is often fun and entertaining. And it's especially relieved to see him not to jump into recent trend of shooting the action scenes with jittery cameraworks that plagued in most action movies these days.

SO WHO EMERGES AS THE WINNER?

Antoine Fuqua! Even though his choice of direction is sometimes questionable (e.g. shooting the action scenes mostly in the dimly-lit interior with jittery cameraworks!), he edges out Roland Emmerich for knowing how to pace his movie well.

THE WRITING

 Okay, it's bloody simple. Just aim at their head and shoot them like apples.

Crieghton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt

In OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, They made quite an impression for replicating DIE HARD-like formula. Their script is mostly effective and straightforward, while throwing some good nods to the original 1988's DIE HARD movie itself.

Uh, sir... I think we're going to crash land at your farmhouse...

James Vanderbilt

Unlike the more straightforward approach in OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, Vanderbilt's script is more colorful and more convoluted. He certainly takes his time to develop the characters and the story as well. But too bad he tends to go overboard with too many hidden agendas in his already-crowded storyline, making the movie's 131 minutes feels unnecessarily overlong.

SO WHO EMERGES AS THE WINNER?

That will be Crieghton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. Clearly this would be a lesson for James Vanderbilt that too much of everything doesn't necessarily spells as a good thing. Sometimes less is more to generate an effective storyline.

THE ACTION

 Arghh! Watch it, man.. I'm just passing by!

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN

The best action set-piece here is no doubt the 15-minute ambush sequence on the White House, which is ranging from an air attack by the North Korean fighter plane to a ground attack by a group of terrorists disguised as tourists. It's quite a shame that the rest of the action scenes are relegated inside the dimly-lit White House, which is sometimes frustrating to be enjoyed for.

 So they rather blow up the whole White House than kicking me out of this place?

WHITE HOUSE DOWN

Roland Emmerich is no stranger when comes to destruction. And here, he displays his nifty skill well enough with plenty of explosive action sequences, ranging from shootouts, fistfights to car chase with equal flairs. Not to mention, he has great eyes to showcase stylish slow-motion scene at the appropriate moments.

SO WHO EMERGES AS THE WINNER?

Clearly it was Roland Emmerich who knows well about camera placements to execute a series of effective action sequences. And best of all, he doesn't get twitchy here and made sure that all of the action sequences are perfectly framed for the viewers to see what is going on.

THE ENDING

 Pardon me, sir... but is that Batman over the lawn gives you a thumb up?

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN

The climactic finale that sees Gerard Butler's Mike Banning and Rick Yune's Kang Yeonsak goes mano-a-mano under the White House tunnel is appropriately gritty and bloody as well.

 Guys, let's settle down and we're talk about this over dinner at my grandma's, okay?

WHITE HOUSE DOWN

One of the main issues I'm not particularly fond of WHITE HOUSE DOWN is its lengthy finale where Emmerich and Vanderbilt are clearly losing their sense of direction how to end the movie in a proper note.

SO WHO EMERGES AS THE WINNER?

Obviously it was OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN for its more clean-cut ending than WHITE HOUSE DOWN's unnecessarily bloated yet overlong finale.

THE WINNER - IT'S A TIE!

So there you go... both OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN and WHITE HOUSE DOWN have their fair share of flaws as well as their fair share of good moments -- which make them equal winners in their equal rights.

 

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