June 30, 2013 -- When I first saw the poster for this film at the local theater, I thought it was an old poster for a movie I had seen a few months before, called “Olympus Has Fallen.” It turns out this is another movie with the same basic plot and a different title. It is a bit better than that earlier film, however, because it does have some interesting characters.
Critics seem split on these two movies, released within just a few months of each other (Olympus Has Fallen was released on March 22, while White House Down was released on June 28). Some think “Olympus Has Fallen” is worse, some think it is better. I think “White House Down” is a little better than “Olympus Has Fallen.” The plot of each of these films is far-fetched, but “White House Down” has the more interesting characters and doesn't take itself so seriously.
The three main characters in “White House Down” are the President of the U.S. (played by Jamie Foxx of “Django Unchained”) a Secret Service job applicant, Cale (Channing Tatum of “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”) and Cale's daughter, Emily (Joey King of “Oz the Great and Powerful”). Other key characters are a Secret Service assistant director Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal of “The Dark Knight”) another Secret Service guy, Walker (James Woods of “Be Cool”) and the Speaker of the House, Raphelson (Richard Jenkins of “The Cabin in the Woods.”
Cale arrives at the White House with his daughter to interview for a Secret Service job with Finnerty, who just happens to be his old flame. Finnerty turns him down, so naturally you know that Cale is going to prove her wrong by saving the president's life. He also has to save his daughter's life, and a bunch of other people, too, when terrorists take over the White House and blow up the Capitol Building.
The elaborate plot to take over the White House and hold the president for ransom turns out to be an inside job orchestrated for several different reasons. It's complicated. The main thing is that Cale and the President become a sort of comic cop buddy team, with the gun-toting POTUS ably supported by Cale, who has special forces training. Emily, a budding journalist, causes all kinds of trouble in the White House with her smart phone and Internet news blog site, sending out live updates from inside the White House.
This movie is silly and over-the-top, but it is also fun, mainly because of the effective comic action paring of Tatum and and Foxx. This film rates a C+.
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