White House Down Gets No Thumbs Up
- Friday, June 28, 2013
DVD Release Date: November 5, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: June 28, 2013
Rating: PG-13 (for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language, and a brief sexual image.)
Run Time: 131 min
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, James Woods
It’s open season on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. at the multiplexes this year.
Just three months after the ludicrous Olympus Has Fallen, we're given another "Die Hard in the White House" actioner. This one’s even more amped up in style yet curbed back on violence (well, gratuitously graphic violence anyway) – plus it’s merely ridiculous rather than completely ludicrous. Unfortunately, though, White House Down only looks good by direct comparison. On its own, this is just another dumb action movie, one that will likely fill seats yet seems fated – like most Roland Emmerich extravaganzas – to be a one-term proposition.
Bloated like a federal budget, White House Down spins its expository wheels for a good half-hour before any action kicks in. Much of it is needless as the characters and relationships all fit genre archetypes, starting with the lead, John Cale (Channing Tatum, G.I. Joe: Retaliation). He wants to join the Secret Service but, despite being a war hero, is too much of a loose cannon. If only a dire scenario requiring incredible heroics against impossible odds with national security at stake would just spiral quickly out of control so that Cale could prove himself...
Well lucky day, there are some vendetta-minded government insiders with scores to settle who are more than willing to create that opportunity with a militarized takeover of the Presidential mansion. Moreover, not only does Cale find himself in the perfect position to prove himself to the President (Jamie Foxx, The Soloist) but also to his angsty-yet-bright tweenage girl with whom he’s sort of estranged post-divorce (natch). There’s also a Speaker, Veep, and other government types (including a romantic interest from Cale’s past) to fill out the ensemble, and it’s all par for the course. Blah blah yada yada, can we get to blowing up the White House already?
Despite the explosive orgy of destruction that unfolds – once it finally gets going, for crying out loud – there's no sense of danger or suspense, as very little is really at stake. Oh sure, the very existence of the free world is on the line – and even, eventually, nuclear Armageddon – but never once are you worried if any of those doomsday scenarios will actually come to pass, or if anyone you care about (and I use that term lightly) will actually die. It doesn’t matter how many thousand bullets are sprayed through the halls, rooms, and vehicles that Cale and the President find themselves in; you know that no bullet will connect with a fatal blow – and when a villain's gun needs to jam, it will.
Which brings us to the bad guys themselves. Though we live in a world in which apparently everyone – from Islamic Radicals to North Korean crazies to your run-of-the-mill Superpower haters – has it in for the United States, the only PC-acceptable villains nowadays are other Americans. Right-wing extremists, to be more specific. All white, male, and some racist to boot.
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