Sunday, November 24, 2013

White House Down Review

White House Down Review
From director Roland Emmerich, you can expect some cheesiness after his lengthy career. "10,000 B.C.," "2012," and "The Day After Tomorrow" featured bundles and bundles of cheesiness. Even some of Emmerich's great movies like "The Patriot" and "Independence Day" had a lot of cheesiness. It has become second nature, walking into a Roland Emmerich movie that the audience will sustain several logic issues. I understand that tons of movies made have logic issues, so that doesn't really bother me. One of the reasons why we watch movies in the first place to see things that are blatantly impossible. Just as long as the movie can tell a good story, I can enjoy it on its own terms.

This is about the billionth year were two films with the same premise got released in the same year. Earlier this year, I saw "Olympus Has Fallen." I didn't hate the movie, but I didn't love it either. It was a movie about an ex-soldier who saved the White House from the terrorists who took it over. "White House Down" is a movie about an ex-soldier who saved the White House from the terrorists who took it over. Channing Tatum plays an ex-soldier who flops in his interview for the Secret Service. Just as his character is about to leave, the White House is attacked and successfully taken over by a group of Americans with a grudge. Then several explosions, bullets and corny one-liners later, Tatum saves the day. (Please don't cry to me, you knew this would end happily. This is a Roland Emmerich film.)

Usually in years where we get two movies with the same premise, both films do their own thing with the material. In 2012, "Snow White and the Huntsmen" was a darker, grittier version of Snow White, while "Mirror, Mirror" was a family-friendly, comedic version of it. In 1998, "Armageddon" had the classic, Hollywood happy ending, while "Deep Impact" ended on a more somber tone. Despite the stories, I would be hardpressed to think of reasons for how "No Strings Attached" compares to "Friends With Benefits." However, if you were to watch "Olympus Has Fallen" next to "White House Down," you'd feel like you watched the same movie twice. Both films have ex-soldiers as the hero, both ex-soldiers have hard pasts, both films have a political traitor who aide the terrorists, and both films make overly-outspoken comments on politics. When two films are this identical, it feels tedious that they both got released in the first place. With all that said, I do prefer "Olympus Has Fallen," that film had better action and it felt like a movie for our time. "White House Down" feels like a movie that came out in the mid-1990's, just swap Channing Tatum with Nicholas Cage.

I will say that Channing Tatum does pretty well despite a stupid script, I continue to enjoy this later half of Tatum's career and he does good work here. I am happy to report that the script fails Tatum, not his performance. In fact, this movie features lots of great actors; like Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins and Jake Weber, all of whom fall flat with this poor script. The biggest disappointment for me was Jamie Foxx as President Sawyer, the performance seemed very one-note and not necessary. I read in reviews prior to seeing this movie that Foxx never once does anything presidential. Well, those reviewers nailed it. Foxx is just playing himself in this movie and never once feels like a leader of a nation.

But hey, this movie came out in late June this year, its a movie that pretty much defines the summer blockbuster. When it comes to dumb summer fun, there is nobody more suitable for the job than Emmerich (well maybe Michael Bay.) If you love lots of big action, "White House Down" has it in spades. Plus, the actors do everything they can to make this matter, but the script lets the performances down. "White House Down" is also so similar to "Olympus Has Fallen" that I feel both movies were un-needed.

FINAL GRADE: C-

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