White House Down (2013)

By on August 26, 2013
White House Down (2013)

Run time: 131 min
Rating: 6.4
Genres: Action | Drama | Thriller
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writers: James Vanderbilt
Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Trivia: While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman springs into action to save his child and protect the president from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders.
Capitol Policeman John Cale has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer. Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. Written by Columbia Pictures
Plot Keywords: president, secret service, white house, terrorism, job interview
Country: USA
Release Date: 28 June 2013 (USA)
Box Office
Budget: $150,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $24,852,258 (USA) (28 June 2013)
Gross: $72,117,169 (USA) (16 August 2013)

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  1. deadpool69

    August 26, 2013 at 6:52 am

    White House Down offers very little that's new or interesting. It's a convoluted mess that's caught in no man's land. It takes itself far too seriously yet offers ridiculous action (ridiculous as in dumb, not as in wild or fun) and even more ridiculous characters. It wants to be taken seriously but functions in bizarre surroundings with a foolish plot. A calamity of underdeveloped ideas, half the film is flat out brain damaged and the other half is pure schlock. Do yourself a favor and avoid this dumb and actually boring farce.

    This movie simply can't stand on its own as a film. Does often joyless, dark and dumb appeal to even the popcorn crowds? The rest of us want way more in our summer movies.

  2. cherrybomb

    August 26, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Forever etching his name on the 'blacklist' of the highest office in Washington, Roland Emmerich is back at destroying the official residence of the President of the United States. Alas, Emmerich has been beaten at his own game, his White House under siege premise coming less than six months after the similarly-themed 'Olympus Has Fallen'. Besides cast and character, both are essentially variations of the same movie – or to sum it up succinctly, 'Die Hard' on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And having lost the novelty factor to 'Olympus', what matters is only whether it is in fact a better movie than its predecessor, to which our answer is unfortunately a resounding no.

    Yes, despite a bigger budget and perhaps more bankable lead stars (Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx are still surer box-office bets than Gerard Butler going by their respective track records), 'White House Down' is a disappointing letdown. To be fair, that ain't the fault of Tatum and Foxx, both of whom are the saving graces of an otherwise embarrassing exercise in hokum; instead, Emmerich and his screenwriter James Vanderbilt are squarely to blame here, the latter for throwing any semblance of logic out the window and the former for trying too hard to emulate Michael Bay.

    Whereas 'Olympus' had the real-life threat of the North Koreans to lend some authenticity, Vanderbilt engenders none with his far-fetched premise of the President's Head of Secret Service, Walker (James Woods), recruiting a hodgepodge bunch of right-wing ex-military fundamentalists to kidnap the President and exploit his nuclear arsenal so as to wipe out America's enemies in the Middle East (here's looking at you, Teheran) off the map. The trigger for that? A G8 speech where current President, James Sawyer (Foxx), essentially tells the world that the U.S. will be pursuing peace diplomacy by taking the first step to lay down its weapons.

    Despite a backstory that tries to explain Walker's motivations, there is little coherence to just how the Head of the President's Secret Service detail would be so compelled to attempt such an act of treason, let alone assemble a ragtag team of militarists with past criminal records and sneak them into the White House to aid his 'noble' cause. Ditto for the likelihood that a hacker, however brilliant he might be, could simply run a programme to crack the NSA's firewalls without even so much as alerting anyone else in the process – and may we add thereby precipitating a thoroughly laughable chain of swearing-ins that goes from the Vice-President to the Speaker of Parliament Raphelson (Richard Jenkins). If you thought 'Olympus' was just implausible, then 'White House Down' pretty much operates on its own system of reasoning.

    Further turning the proceedings to farce is the buddy team of aspiring Secret Service agent John Cale (Tatum) and President Sawyer. A classic case of the right guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, Cale finds himself rising to the call of duty when the terrorists launch their attack just as he and his daughter Emily (Joey King) are on tour in the White House. But instead of repeating the formula of one man saving the day (or the President for that matter), Vanderbilt introduces a twist to the dynamics between Cale and Sawyer by turning them into partners – though how much it really does veer from the earlier cliché is questionable.

    Nonetheless, Tatum and Foxx make a pleasantly amusing pair and are – truth be told – the best things that the movie has going for it. But the immediate trade-off of injecting comedy into a premise that intuitively demands a certain degree of solemnity is that you cannot quite take anything else that happens in it seriously afterwards. Nowhere is this more evident than in an utterly ludicrous sequence where Cale and Sawyer are in the President's limousine driving round and round the fountain in the middle of the White House lawn while being chased by the bad guys, the sheer stupidity of it matched by the fact that Sawyer is in the meantime figuring out how to assemble a mini rocket launcher in the back seat.

    Whereas 'Olympus' kept its pacing taut by emphasising the gravity of the threat facing the nation, there is nary a frisson of tension even as Walker comes dangerously close to acquiring the President's nuclear commandership. Simply put, the self-aware humour that is the only reason why the movie remains watchable sits at odds with the self-serious tone in the last third of the film, and no number of fighter planes nor surface-to-air missiles can regain the credibility of its premise.

    It doesn't help that the action, which consists largely of close combat fights, is surprisingly lacklustre, choreographed with neither finesse nor technique to distinguish one from the other. Wherever Emmerich gets the opportunity in the screenplay to stage the action against a wider canvas, he squanders that chance to make it count, the surfeit of CGI and excess making for a toxic combination that renders what is shown little more than an afterthought. Indeed, a similar sequence as that in 'Olympus' where the Special Forces attempt to land on the roof of the White House from helicopters unfolds with so little excitement that it might as well have been cut out altogether.

    Therein lies perhaps the biggest problem with 'White House Down' – even as a summer popcorn flick, it just isn't thrilling enough. Emmerich tries to keep every frame busy – hence the countless number of times Tatum leaps over couches or slides over tables – but the action is just loud, dumb and plain boring. Only the humour between Tatum and Foxx manages to be entertaining, though it's hard not to regard the movie as farce afterwards. Call us biased, but we like our White House under siege thrillers to be hard-hitting, intense and gripping, none of which can be used to describe 'White House Down'.


  3. iamstark

    August 26, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Now, this seemed like the perfect summer blockbuster. Two huge stars, an expensive budget and a director with a knack for action. What could go wrong? By the end of it, instead of what could go wrong, you'll be asking yourself what went right. The answer….barely anything. White House Down is not only dumb, it is downright idiotic. The plot is preposterous, the action sequences sub par and the acting is atrocious. Channing Tatum does his best Bruce Willis impression while Jamie Foxx turns in the worst performance of his career. The supporting cast lead by Maggie Gyllenhaal saves the terrible leads and are the sole reason I am not giving this a 1. Overall, this film is loud, long and boring, so much so, I can't imagine any adult with a functioning brain to enjoy this. I highly recommend to stay away from this stinker. If you want a great action film featuring the destruction of the White House, tune into Olympus Has Fallen.

  4. oldmanlogan

    August 26, 2013 at 6:52 am

    It is inevitable that White House Down be compared to Olympus Has Fallen. Unfortunately, it compares poorly from the title on down.

    The special effects lack the realism of OHF.

    The action sequences are disjointed and downright goofy at times.

    The bad guys are cartoonish and you get no sense of satisfaction when they are put down.

    The plot is too complicated by half and really is not relevant to the action.

    The movie ends with a whimper and a SNL quality perp walk of the character who is ultimately responsible for all the carnage.

    But the worst thing is the crude, amateurish and transparent Left vs. Right political message in which it drapes all the other sub par elements. It is a Progressive's wet dream that really couldn't be any more wacko if you gathered 100 of Huffington Posts's top Super Users in a room festooned pictures of Dick Cheney and GWB, fed them mushrooms, and asked them to come up with the motivation for the bad guys.

    But Good Guys shooting bad guys is always good and so are explosions. If you ignore the channeling of Nancy Pelosi, then you might get your money's worth at a matinée showing.

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