This was my pregnant wife’s loud, happy review of “White House Down,” delivered as soon as the end credits started rolling: “That was the best movie we’ve seen all summer! Better than ‘Man of Steel,’ better than ‘Iron Man.'” Later, she added “It was better than ‘World War Z’. . . .”
My dad had sent me this text message a few days ago: “Just saw joss wheedon’s Much Ado About Nothing and it was great. Go see it.”
Dad: “Lots of trigger time.”
Dad: “Don’t make me send that text to Erin.”
Erin’s the pregnant wife. She agrees our time was well spent with “White House Down.” Whedon’s Shakespeare flick will keep until the DVD comes out.
There have been many “Die Hard” ripoffs, but “White House Down” is one of the best. (I also like “Sudden Death,” with Jean-Claude Van Damme fighting terrorists at a playoff hockey game, and “Under Siege,” with Steve Seagull on a boat.)
In “White House Down,” the U.S. president, Jamie Foxx, is about to officially end all warring in the Middle East; all the troops are coming home. Before his plan can be enacted, though, terrorists bomb the U.S. Capitol and take over the White House. They are led by the father of a dead Marine and a disillusioned former special ops commando.
The bad guys’ team is made up of racists and Right wingers. They are a zany lot. And they’re armed with huge weapons supplied by (and this is overtly stated out-loud) The Military Industrial Complex, which is not pleased with the president’s unprofitable peace plan.
The flick takes a while to establish all the characters as being likable. Then the explosions commence. There are a ton of shootouts in the White House. There is a rousing, hilarious, scary chase scene between super-armored “Ground Force One” limos on the White House lawn. Air Force One gets blasted out of the sky. Tons of politicians are killed. The bad-guy deaths at the end of the movie are absolutely spectacular, and totally satisfying.
Jamie Foxx is not presidential, but he’s great as a sidekick to the John McClain of “White House Down,” Channing Tatum’s John Kale. Their chemistry is funny and effective, and they each have the chops for great action.
Kale’s daughter—the hero’s extra hit of motivation beyond mere boring patriotism—is great, but a little girl should not have a gun in her face this often.
“White House Down” is directed by Roland Emmerich, who is crazy. He collects penis sculptures and his movies’ death tolls can reach into the billions. They can be pretty bad, but it’s not hard to figure out why. The villain in “The Day After Tomorrow” is weather. In “2012,” it’s the end of the Mayan calendar. “Independence Day” had aliens we barely saw and learned nothing about.
“White House Down” has real villains, who are crazy and armed with massive weapons. Action movies need real villains.
This movie descends from “Die Hard,” but it reminded me of “The Rock.” Instead of Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery, we get Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. Instead of Ed Harris, we get James Woods. Instead of Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich. Everyone’s game.
And it really worked for Erin. Sure, she’s a Tatum Channing fan for the obvious reasons. Good looking bastard. But she liked the movie as a movie, and so did everyone else in the theater.
This summer is loaded with action movies that take themselves too seriously. “White House Down” has explosions, shootouts, great bad guys and an awesome sense of humor. “That was the best movie we’ve seen all summer!” She might be right. But, then, my dad and I saw “Fast and Furious 6” without her.