Review: White House Down

White_House_Down_Theatrical_PosterFrances Winston  finds the explosions in this movie spectacular, but the theme is one which has been done before

Directed by: Roland Emmerich – Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, James Woods

Roland Emmerich clearly is not a fan of The White House, since disaster seems to befall it in many of his movies – most notably Independence Day where it was blown up. However, it didn’t fare that well in 2012 or the Day After Tomorrow either. But if it ain’t broke don’t fix it and in case the title didn’t give it away, this is a movie about an attack on the White House – and yes the building once again gets trashed. With a very similar theme to the recent Olympus Has Fallen this sees the US President’s Residence overrun by mercenaries and only one man can save the day.

That one man in this case is Channing Tatum, who is clearly trying to gain some action hero credentials. He plays John Cale – a US Capitol Police Officer assigned to Speaker of the House, who has aspirations to join the Secret Service. Unfortunately when he attends an interview for the role, he is rejected outright. After lying to his daughter about getting the job, they then join a tour of the White House, and it is overrun by soldiers of fortune.

Since his daughter was in the bathroom when they struck, Cale is forced to take them on in order to find her. As he searches the vast mansion for his little girl, he manages to save the president (Foxx) and get to the bottom of the attacker’s plot, which he is then told he must foil, by the very people who turned him down for the Secret Service job. With time running out before the White House and everyone in it is blown up, he must try to get the President to safety, and catch the bad guys.

Yes, this is formulaic. The lone wolf takes on the terrorists tale is done to death, and this is no Die Hard. The trailers imply that this is a serious action flick, but the movie doesn’t take itself that seriously and contains many attempts at wry humour – which are often misguided. On the whole the script is incredibly weak, cliché driven and cheesy. You can see the set-ups coming a mile away, and the plot twists and turns are actually laughable. Tatum is unconvincing as Cale, and Foxx doesn’t bring the gravitas required to the role of Commander-in-Chief.

That said, Emmerich knows his way around an action scene, and there are some full on engaging set pieces here. While it may seem unlikely that Cale could singlehandedly defeat the massive thugs that take over the famous landmark, the hand to hand scenes are handled well, with a couple being rather clever and, as you would expect, the explosions and bombings are spectacular.

Also, Tatum gets his top off – something that has become a bit of a trademark of his. Well, he strips to his vest anyway. Near the end of the movie. However, a bit of eye candy never did anyone any harm, and there are definitely a few people who find him aesthetically pleasing, so this will keep them happy.

If blow ‘em up bubblegum for the eyes works for you, then you should enjoy this, but enter the cinema with low expectations. This story has absolutely no substance, and although Foxx and Tatum have good chemistry, it doesn’t detract from the sheer cheesiness of this.

You’ll like this if you liked: Godzilla, Olympus has Fallen

In Cinemas September 13th

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