Movie Review - White House Down

This movie is very similar to Olympus Has Fallen, if not practically the same. It came out in the summer in the wake of Olympus Has Fallen and bombed in the box office, but, hands down, White House Down is the better of the two. It reminds me of a similar situation several years ago when two movies came out in close proximity to each other about Truman Capote writing the same book. The first movie simply called Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, was more successful. The second one called Infamous, starring Toby Jones, wasn't successful, but, hands down, Infamous was the better of the two. Another similar thing happened with two movies about the assassination of one of the Beatles. The first was The Killing of John Lennon. The other was Chapter 27, starring Jared Leto, and again the latter of two was the better of the two.

Roland Emmerich directed White House Down and it's no less ridiculous than Olympus Has Fallen, but I like the writing and the acting a whole lot more. I don't think Channing Tatum is that great an actor, but he has a way more likeable and charming, screen presence than Gerard Butler. I might be biased because I've never liked Butler in any movie he's done, including Zach Snyder's 300. Yes, the plot is essentially the same, but it has character moments that sell it better.

Jamie Foxx stars as President James W. Sawyer and his character seems inspired by Barack Obama. His White House comes under siege when a Judas within his administration wants revenge against the Middle East, blaming all in that area for the death of his son. That Judas is Martin Walker, played by James Woods, and I liked him as a villain in this movie rather than the villain in Olympus Has Fallen.

The problem in Olympus Has Fallen is that I didn't buy the villain. The motivation for the traitorous Americans were never clear. It became a rather Ann Coulter fantasy of taking a liberal idea and making it the reason for evil for the character played by Dylan McDermott.

Nevertheless, Walker's motives aren't so convoluted. They're straight-forward and offer a radical move to foreign policy and warfare that no sane person would actually consider but is a logical conclusion, an extreme one but strangely logical. As a character moment, it's reminiscent of Brody from the TV series Homeland. Ironically, a movie that drew comparisons to Homeland was Zero Dark Thirty and one of the actors from Zero Dark Thirty, Jason Clarke, appears here in White House Down. Except, instead of hunting terrorists, he is one.

Another great character moment is when President Sawyer is told that Walker will kill a little girl unless he gives up the codes to the country's nuclear weapons. A gun is pointed at a little girl's head and there is no question that Walker will pull the trigger, and still Sawyer says no and is fine with letting the little girl die. That is a great moment, which you don't get in a lot of these movies.

Joey King who plays Emily, the threatened little girl, is good. Maggie Gyllenhaal who plays Carol, a leading member of the Secret Service is good as well. Gyllenhaal is good at everything she does. The action is fun without being too intense and gruesome.

Four Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 11 mins.


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