There have been many different films this year that have very similar films out at the same time. These include This Is The End and The World’s End, The Host and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Jack The Giant Slayer and Oz: The Great And Powerful and Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet. However, the surprising one of these I’ve found has been the two Die Hard in the White House movies, Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. Now Olympus Has Fallen took the incredibly goofy premise of the film completely seriously which led to a pretty boring film, despite the really well directed action scenes. Whit House Down on the other hand takes this premise and runs with it, producing one of the most gloriously stupid films of the year.
The plot of the film is just Die Hard in the White House, a group of terrorists take over the White House and ask for the entirety of the Federal Reserve so they don’t kill any hostages. One of the hostages, John Cale, escapes though and teams up with the President in order to remove the terrorists from the White House and rescue Cale’s daughter. The thing that makes this film stand out though are the villains. Not the actual characters, they are incredibly cliched and it’s pretty easy to predict who the villains will be from the start due to the casting. What makes them unique is the type of cliche. In most of these films, the villains are North Korean terrorists, as was the case with Olympus Has Fallen, White House Down meanwhile makes the villains the epitome of the extreme American right wing, White Supremacists, ex-military men and so on. Hell at one point, the President literally calls the villains the Military Industrial Complex at one point. This is probably the first time I’ve heard of an action film being made for the Left Wing and in this regard, the film really works.
The performances also help convey the tone of the film. Channing Tatum as Cale and Jamie Foxx as the President are brilliant together, they have great comic chemistry and they both know how ridiculous the premise is and just have fun with it. Foxx is the standout though, he does great comedic and dramatic stuff throughout the film, even though it is pretty obvious that he’s playing Barack Obama, from his mannerisms to the overall character, a peace craving, black Democrat with a strong respect for Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela. The other cast members do pretty good jobs. Joey King, between this and Oz: The Great and Powerful, has shown herself to be a brilliant young actress. She really shows the fear of someone in that situation, along with a great sense of courage over what she does before she gets captured, along with brilliantly showing how someone that young could become so involved with politics. There are also pretty good performances from Maggie Gyllenhaal and Richard Jenkins in smaller roles. Jason Clarke and James Woods as the villains meanwhile are just chewing the scenery every time that they are on screen and are a lot of fun to watch. All the actors in the film know just how ridiculous the film is and play along with it.
The action scenes in the film are also incredibly over the top, ranging from standard gunfights to car chases with armoured limos on the White House lawn involving a rocket launcher. One of the things that can be said about Roland Emmerich is that he knows how to shoot action scenes and all the action scenes in this film are brilliantly shot. Not all of the technical aspects of the film are as well done though, the CGI effects in a lot of scenes are pretty terrible and the film goes on for way too long. Just when you think the film is about to wrap up, another action scene or plot contrivance is added to keep the film going longer. This film didn’t need to be over 2 hours long and cutting about 15 minutes from the film would have made it more fun.
Overall though, White House Down is a one of the funnest films of the year. Yes it’s incredibly stupid but everyone involved knows it’s stupid and plays along with it. Whilst the length of the film reduces the fun factor, the really fun performances from Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx and the well directed action scenes help make the film a blast to watch.
My Rating: 4/5