Review: White House Down


White House Down posterThis summer brings us not one but two movies that feature the overtaking of the White House. Some may scoff at this idea in general. And when you hear that Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012) directed the latest of these two films, White House Down, not only might you wonder how a man can so easily destroy the White House again, but you might also wonder how silly a movie it will be.

White House Down, however, could end up being one of the more surprising movies of the summer. Not because it's better than it seemed it would be -- it's an action film after all, and surely would have been entertaining on at least some level. What is surprising about this movie is how tight the script is. It makes for an ultra enjoyable summer action flick that's got some great and smart moments that make it a complete picture, rather than an overblown hyperviolent actionfest (looking at you, Olympus Has Fallen).

On what starts as a normal day in Washington, D.C., the President (Jamie Foxx) declares that now is the time to pull all U.S. soldiers out of the Middle East. While this delights some, a lot of defense contractor money is at stake, so there are detractors to this plan. In the wrong place at the wrong time is John Cale (Channing Tatum), an aspiring Secret Service agent who happens to be at the White House for a job interview when the takeover happens. With no one left to protect the President, it's up to him to get the leader of the free world out safely. Oh, and he's gotta find his daughter, too.

A lot of pieces are at play in this story, which is standard for an Emmerich film, and some pieces tend to feel worthless and unnecessary. This is not a problem in White House Down. It's subtle when it needs to be (especially with foreshadowing), and never too over the top. The movie plays safely in the highly coveted PG-13 rating that makes summer films a huge success, and which is something that Olympus Has Fallen didn't even try to aim for.

Above all, Tatum and Foxx are fantastic as a duo. Trailers made it seem as though White House Down would be too silly, and maybe even kind of stupid, but that will be the furthest thing from your mind when you watch this movie. Every piece in this puzzle performs admirably, even the role of Cale's little girl, Emily (Joey King).

It's worth noting that a comparison to Olympus Has Fallen seems to be inevitable, and the two films are vastly different. They are each fun in their own way, and neither of them are bad. The difference is "dumb fun," and one of them is just great. White House Down is just great. That is what you should see this weekend.