Review: WHITE HOUSE DOWN (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Review: WHITE HOUSE DOWN (2013)

Oh... my lucky f**king day with Mr. President here who looks like a standup comedian and I dressed like John McClane...
WHITE HOUSE DOWN is fun and silly, if overlong, throwback to the '90s era of summer-movie spectacle elevated with two exciting performances by Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx.

It's DIE HARD... in the White House again! Three months after the surprise hit of Antoine Fuqua's OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (read my review here), this similarly-themed action thriller of WHITE HOUSE DOWN is blessed with a bigger budget ($150 million vs. $70 million for OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN), bigger stars (Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx) and of course, more recognizable director (Roland Emmerich of INDEPENDENCE DAY, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and 2012). But as (Hollywood) history has taught us that "bigger isn't necessarily better", that philosophy holds quite true for WHITE HOUSE DOWN -- meaning it has a fair share of flaws. But rest assured that this summer action blockbuster has enough silly thrills to satisfy action fans as well as mainstream viewers.


The movie begins with a particular day when Capitol policeman John McClane Cale (Channing Tatum) is taking his 11-year-old estranged daughter Emily (Joey King) on a tour of the White House while going there on a job interview with the Secret Service. But after Secret Service agent Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal) looks into his file, she concludes that John is not qualified enough to become one of them. Things doesn't go better from there, as John and Emily is suddenly caught in the middle of national crisis when a powerful explosion blows off the Capitol building and immediately created mass chaos. As the panic starts to arise, John discovers that a heavily-armed paramilitary group has taken control of the White House. As in DIE HARD with the ever-popular theme of "wrong man at the wrong place at the wrong time", John is forced to save the day as he races against the time to find Emily, while rescuing President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) at the same time. Well, as for the rest of the story, if you have seen a DIE HARD movie before, nothing is what it seems at the first place.

In his most entertaining movie since 2004's THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, Roland Emmerich's direction is all about pure fun that recalls the good old days of a '90s summer-movie action genre. On top of that, WHITE HOUSE DOWN is also benefits from a colorful script by James Vanderbilt who certainly taken most of the inspirations from the original DIE HARD movie. As for the cast, Channing Tatum looks very promising as the next everyman action hero in the mould of Bruce Willis' John McClane in the DIE HARD movies. Not only he displays an effortless charm to his character, he handles pretty well in a physically-demanding performance. As President Sawyer, I have to say that Jamie Foxx has definitely earns a credit for being the funniest presidential role I've ever seen in a movie. Both Foxx and Tatum pair up really well that immediately reminds me of Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in the LETHAL WEAPON movies. The supporting cast are also equally strong with the likes of Joey King, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Jason Clarke and Richard Jenkins. Action-wise, it's good to see that Emmerich doesn't resorts into shaky cameraworks that plagued most of the action movies these days.

The shootout scene in the kitchen where President Sawyer finally shoots the bad guy after putting on his glasses; the thrilling car chase scene on a presidential limo around the White House lawn; and the ambush attack scene atop the White House which involves three Black Hawk choppers.

President Sawyer: Get your hands off my Jordans!
As fun as the movie manages to achieve its target, James Vanderbilt's script is sometimes overly convoluted with too many hidden agendas. Clocking at 131 minutes, the movie does feels overlong, particularly during the lengthy finale as if Emmerich and Vanderbilt doesn't know when to quit at an appropriate moment. Other than that, some of the CGI-enhanced scenes looks spotty.

Okay, gentlemen... walk in slow motion and pretend like you're in a Michael Bay's movie.

Despite most of the flaws, WHITE HOUSE DOWN remains one of the best action movies of the year.

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