White House Down: Actioner, Starring Channing Tatum

What would a Freudian psychologist say about the urge of A-list Hollywood directors to wreak mass destruction on the White House, the world’s most recognizable home and symbol of American democracy?

Trailer: www.emanuellevy.com/?attachment_id=65375

Is it just a coincidence that we have not one but two pictures dealing with the same issue in the same season? The other being “Olympus Has Fallen,” directed by Antoine Fuqua and released in March. Both “White House Down” and “Olympus Has Fallen” represent mindless blockbusters, silly actioners that are easily consumed and even more easily forgettable.

Columbia is releasing the picture this Friday, June 28, barely a week after “World War Z,” Brad Pitt’s star vehicle, which is a better, smarter, more entertaining picture.

Review: www.emanuellevy.com/review/olympus-has-fallen/

The cliché scenario, such as it is, was written by James Vanderbilt, who borrows (lifts?) from “Die Hard” the central premise of a skillful former military and law man, who “just happens” to be the only individual capable to foil the terrorists’ attack.

Artistically, “White House Down” bears the unmistakable retro signature of Roland Emmerich, who has previously given us “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “2012,” among others, all popcorn movies, which, nonetheless, have grossed more than $3 billion worldwide. When Emmerich, an old-fashioned director with a penchant for cheesy flicks (Remember “The Mummy?”), strays from his specialty, as he did with the pretentious “Anonymous,” he falls flat on his face.

The appealing , who continues to improve as an actor, stars as John Cale, a Capitol policeman who has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting the estimable President, James Sawyer (played by Jamie Foxx). An Iraq war veteran, Cale now works the security detail for the Speaker of the House of Representatives (the always reliable Richard Jenkins).
Disregarding any logic, Cale goes for his job interview with his daughter, who “happens” to be the president’s biggest fan.

Later, refusing to let down his girl with the bad news, Cale takes her on a tour of the White House, when, suddenly, the whole complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. The terrorists first set off a bomb in the Capitol, then attack the White House from the inside. The girl wanders around the house, as if waiting to be taken hostage by the villains.

As a result, the government loses control and the country predictably goes into chaos. The clock is ticking and time is running out. Could one heroic man, albeit with a chip on his shoulder, risk his life to save his daughter, the President, the country, and, by implication, the whole globe?

the plot makes maximum use of automatic weapons and other explosives, and we are not supposed to ask why Cale is wearing a bulletproof vest? As the President, Jamie Fox, in his rapid-fire delivery, could have played his undemanding part in his sleep. In contrast, Tatum cuts a more imposing figure with his appealing physicality and throwaway comic style, and his underacting is a plus for the preposterous plot.

Unlike Michael Bay, Hollywood’s other big action director, whose philosophy is both cynical and ironic, Emmerich has maintained his naïve, retro, unpretentious style, which makes “White House Down” slightly more entertaining (and less offensive) than Bay’s pictures, or for that matter, “Olympus Has Fallen.”