Sunday, 30 June 2013

White House Down Movie Review!!!

This is the second time the White House has been taken over by terrorists this year - but does this movie come out in first place??? Read on to find out!

Most of us here at Maximum Extreme loved Olympus Has Fallen.  It was raw, visceral, believable and relevant given recent shenanigans in North Korea.  It had characters we cared about, humor just when it was necessary and, in general, seemed to tick all the right boxes.  So when we heard that the director of 2012 and Independence Day was bringing us an almost identical movie produced with twice the budget, we couldn’t help but wonder if it would be better.  As movie critics, it’s our job to enter each movie with an open mind.  I hoped that I would be pleasantly surprised.

Alas, everything that made Olympus great is pretty much absent in White House Down. 

The story follows Cale (Channing Tatum) as he interviews for a position in the Secret Service.  We are also introduced to his daughter (Joey King), apparently a White House & presidential fanatic.  I’m sure that there are such children out there but they must be few and far between.  So to believe that this little girl idolizes the president and his political stance on foreign policy and international relations was a tough cookie to swallow.  But I was still willing to play along.

On a side note, I wonder why the Secret Service feel it is necessary to give everything a silly name.  The president’s helicopter is called the Hummingbird, the White House is called Castle (not as cool as Olympus) and the briefcase used to launch nuclear missiles is called the nuclear football or something silly like that.

Getting back to the review, Jamie Foxx plays president Sawyer, a paper-thin Obama wannabe.  His demeanor and on-screen persona made it very difficult to believe him as the leader of the so-called free world.  I was waiting for him to come out with some gangster slang, which thankfully he didn’t.  But that gives you an idea of the type of president he appeared to be.  Unbelievable, just like Maggie Gyllenhaal as the deputy head of the Secret Service.

Gone is the tight, timed, surgically precise military takeover of the White House that we saw in Olympus.  Cue instead a team of misfits and comedy villain caricatures who, disguised as janitors and home theatre sound engineers, covertly infiltrate the White House.  The whole process felt too slow and drawn out.  The bad guys include a lollipop sucking, classical music listening computer hacker, a few ex-special forces guys and a moustache wearing, tattoo bearing redneck clown.  Seriously, a two year old could have come up with these textbook movie villain stereotypes.  James Woods plays a decent villain but even his motivations are questionable.

They slowly manage to take over the White House, followed by a ridiculously delayed military response.  But fret not, Cale is roaming the grounds looking for his daughter and manages to stumble on President Sawyer himself.  This is where the movie turns into something of a buddy movie with a few comedic moments but nonetheless, nothing that saves the film from ultimately failing on all levels.

Tatum is never truly believable as someone that has the skills to take back the White House in the way Butler did in Olympus.  Even the moment he takes his shirt off to reveal his Die Hard style vest felt contrived and forced as his shirt was still completely undamaged.  Not like the gradual progression of clothes damage we are used to seeing in Die Hard – a small but significant gripe that signifies how contrived proceedings feel at times.  Sometimes I feel like Frank Grimes watching Homer Simpson, it’s as if I’m the only person that can see that Tatum is a terrible actor (you can add Brad Pitt to that list too).  I’m not sure if I’m even watching the same movies as everyone else given Tatum’s many rave reviews of late.

So how was the action?  We expect epic destruction from the director of 2012 but, again, it’s something that never materializes.  There are no standout memorable action scenes.  The attempted helicopter attack on the White House is shockingly almost identical to that of Olympus.  The only scene that even comes close to being memorable is one featuring the President’s Ground Force One (AKA The Beast) going round and round in the Rose Garden like something out of a Tom & Jerry cartoon, but even that comes to a rather disappointing end. 

Given the lack of tension throughout the entire movie, we never really feel that anything serious is actually happening.  Presidents appear to be easily replaceable and that in turn makes the loss of the White House feel even more inconsequential. 

By the time we’ve come to the movies end, the twists are so obvious and spelled out that it’s laughable.

Sadly, this is a forgettable movie with next to no replay value.  A perfect example of lazy Hollywood, ultra-safe, action filmmaking by numbers.  The type of laziness that has destroyed the Die Hard series.  Roland Emmerich, the master of disaster movies can now add this disaster of a movie to his repertoire. Goes to show that bigger doesn’t always mean better. 

Want to watch an action thriller about the White House being taken over by terrorists, then watch Olympus Has Fallen.

For more of an analysis, watch this space for our Olympus Has Fallen Vs. White House Down Podcast coming your way soon.

Rating 2.5 out of 5


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