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Review: White House Down

Columbia Pictures: Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum in "White House Down"Earlier in 2013, fans of cinematic entertainment were given the opportunity to see what could possibly happen if the White House was attacked and taken over by a group of terrorists when Olympus Has Fallen was released in theaters. Taking the White House down doesn’t seem plausible since it’s supposed to be one of the most protected places in the world, but for entertainment sake it sounds like something that would definitely spark the interest of several curious minds from all over.  When you think about it from that perspective, it’s kind of odd that there haven’t really been too many movies that have covered this subject in the history of American cinema.

It sounds like that kind of plot would be some kind of attention grabber that could bring in a good chunk of change, and I think that one could say that Olympus Has Fallen brought in a decent amount of money. With that being the case, it can’t be considered to be a movie filled with significantly positive qualities or even a few memorable segments. Perhaps White House Down could do what that movie couldn’t? They have more star power and the creators of this action flick had the benefit of seeing what the earlier film did and didn’t do.

Kind of like the movie that saw Gerard Butler in the lead role, White House Down starts off by showing an average day in the world built around the Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America. President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) is spending his time in office as a man who wants to make the world a better place. His plans are that of an idealist who believes peace can be achieved without resorting to the violence of war that has seemingly been a staple in global politics for as long as mankind has roamed the Earth. With all of the parties involved, it looks to be an impossible task, but it’s worth giving it a shot.

His dreams of building a world that distances itself from violence would mirror what he and the rest of the White House appear to be experiencing on this bright and sunny day. It’s a perfect day for the building formerly knows as the Presidential Palace to open its doors to a group of sightseers who want to get an up close and personal look at a historic piece of history. One of the people that happens to be there today is John Cale (Channing Tatum), a Capitol Policeman with dreams of one day protecting the President as a member of the Secret Service. He’s getting an interview today to see if he’s able to land the job and he’s also brought his young daughter with him so she can get a glimpse of the White House.

Outside of that, nothing appears to be out of the ordinary on the surface. However, if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find that a militant group of terrorists moving around behind the scenes. They’re shifting things around, setting things up and getting prepared for an all out assault on the White House, it primary resident and anyone else who’s crazy enough to get in their way. They’re skilled at what they do and have the ability to hide in plain sight, so everyone is caught off guard when the attack finally begins.

A barrage of bullets and explosions assist the group in overtaking the presidential residence without warning and leaves everything on the inside and out in shambles. This onslaught of violence that disrupted an otherwise quiet day also causes the unfortunate separation of Cale and his eleven year old daughter. With that in mind and the desire for his own survival, the cop who aspires to serve in secret for the commander-in-chief must take the initiative to save the day and show himself and everyone else that he has what it takes for the job.

As the ever dangerous armed paramilitary team storms through the White House with the hopes of executing their master plan, the audience of White House Down is treated to a healthy amount of violence that includes the heroics of not only Channing Tatum’s character, but also showcases Jamie Foxx’s President James Sawyer as a more than willing sidekick in much of the PG-13 escapades that being put on display. This can kind of be classified as an action movie with those two starring as a freedom fighting tandem through much of it, and that does lead to a few interesting moments between the duo.

There are also a few instances where the two have chances to show their comedic qualities whether they’re together or separate, and that can be seen as a positive as well. For me, those features are a welcome addition to White House Down, but the truth is, none of it can keep the movie from failing as a whole. While these attributes are able to make the movie somewhat watchable, the movie itself is just simply too long. If and when you watch it, you’ll see that this has all the makings of a movie that shouldn’t last any longer than an hour and forty minutes or so.

Aside from some of the action and comedy that is seen in this summer flick, there isn’t really much else to look at in a positive light. If I can anything else as a positive, I’d include Jason Clarke’s performance as one of the lead antagonists in the film. Here, he has a character that allows him to show some personality and he fits his role in just about every way possible. Other than that there isn’t much worth watching here.

A shorter movie and/or a better script would have made White House Down quite a bit better in my eyes. This movie does have a few bright spots, but there is just so much downtime in between them due to the length of the film and the longer than needed build up. Based on the reactions of some at the screening that I attended, this can probably be seen as a crowd-pleaser to a few of its viewers and I can definitely see why. However, I’m not one of them and I can’t see myself watching it again or suggesting it to anyone.

Score: 2/5

Rating: PG-13

Director: Roland Emmerich

Channing Tatum
Jamie Foxx
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Jason Clarke
Richard Jenkins
James Woods

Film Length: 129 minutes

Release Date: June 28, 2013

Distributor: Columbia Pictures

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