Title: White House Down
How Many Times Have We Seen The White House Destroyed On Film? If you mean, the royal "we," then seven: WHD, Superman 2, Mars Attacks!, Earth vs the Flying Saucers, 2012, Independence Day, and Olympus Has Fallen.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two-and-a half Roy Rogers out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Capitol cop combats coup, counters conniving Congressman.
Tagline: "It all goes down."
Better Tagline: "Bros before POTUS."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Desperate to get back into his estranged daughter Emily's (Emily King) good graces, DC cop John Cale (Channing Tatum) procures White House tour passes for the two of them. Unfortunately, they find themselves caught up in a nefarious plot to topple the government of President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx), and Cale is forced to single-handedly defeat the plans of the mastermind, who just happens to be the head of Sawyer's security detail (James Woods)
See It/Rent It/Skip It: Rent it. Just don't play the drinking game I write about below.
"Critical" Analysis: In this, the 25th year since the release of Die Hard -- possibly the finest pure action movie ever made -- it's fitting we'd get a movie that isn't "Die Hard on a Boat" (Under Siege), or "Die Hard on a Bus (Speed), or even "Die Hard in the Rain" (The Notebook, though I may have made that up in my head to escape the actual film). No, White House Down is the closest thing we're likely to get to an actual remake of the Bruce Willis original until somebody loses their mind and decides to do an "official" version with Rumer.
At least, that's how it plays out for the first two acts. As Cale and his daughter are inadvertently caught up in the plot to take over the White House. From there, you could get dangerously intoxicated playing a drinking game where you take a shot every time there's a DH ripoff/homage.
Eurotrash mercenaries? Drink. Improbably hip computer whiz? Drink. Hero running around in a wife beater? Drink. Bad guy accidentally discovers the identity of his mysterious antagonist's family member? By the time you get to the villainous scheme that's actually a cover for an even more villainous scheme, you'll probably need a stomach pump.
And if that was it, it'd be a perfectly adequate flick. (Barely) more plausible than Olympus Has Fallen, with a cast that's a who's who of character actors (Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, Michael Murphy, Lance Reddick, Jake Weber), Tatum could say "Yippie ki yay, motherfucker" and you'd almost forgive him for it.
But then the President straps on his Air Jordans, and the next thing you know he and Cale are doing doughnuts on the White House Lawn and you can't figure out what the hell just happened.
There's still plenty to enjoy, especially if you're an aficionado of 100 percent processed American cheese. And much as you might want to hate the guy, Tatum pulls off the reluctantly heroic asshole about as we'll as you'd hope. How well you buy Foxx as the President depends on if you can ignore the fact he constantly looks like he wants to do his Wanda impression for his staff.
Seriously, this is about the most bro-tastic movie since Anchorman. I suspect there's a scene left on the cutting room floor where Marine One took Cale and Sawyer to Vegas for the weekend as reward for a job well-done.
And if I may be permitted an indulgence for my political science background: don't make your anti-POTUS bad guy a tool of the military-industrial complex when you know as well as I do there's no way a President can get elected in this country without money from the defense industry.
I said in my review of Olympus Has Fallen that ripping off Die Hard only works if you capture something of the spirit of the original. White House Down does a somewhat better job, but it doesn't change the fact I left the theater unsure whether I loved or hated this movie. As of this writing, I still don't know.
White House Dawn is in theaters today. I wouldn't take a bullet for it.
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