Spoiler alert! You’ve already seen this movie. If you missed Olympus has Fallen, however, Emmerich brings you its younger cousin, White House Down, accompanied by all the burning explosion fun you loved in Independence Day – minus the aliens.
Following the familiar formula, the story starts with the introduction of the unlikely hero. Ex-Marine, now Capitol cop, John Cale (Channing Tatum) gets an immediate rejection for a position in the Secret Service. He has a reputation of being unreliable, with poor scores and unfavourable references. The disappointment is kept from his daughter Emily (a white house fanatic), who eagerly awaits to tour the iconic building, and see where her father will be working. Of course it also happens to be the same day that Secret Services chief Martin Walker (James Woods) is retiring. The security is compromised by a paramilitary group that starts blowing things up, shooting people and take the white house hostage. It’s up to John to protect President James Sawyer from the attackers.
Cale and Emily are separated just before all the excitement starts – what better motivation to step into hero mode than a father’s instinct to protect his child. It is up to Cale to save his daughter, who happens to record everything on her phone and upload it on her Youtube channel, the President of the United States and reveal the mastermind behind the attack.
It is very unlikely that one man and his teenage daughter can stand against the incredibly trained men who killed the Capitol’s guards and Marines, without breaking a sweat. But when it comes to Cale and his daughter they have very bad aim and almost kill the first President.
White House Down is filled with clichés. As usual, it truly is a massive collage of resentment and greed that fuels all this chaos. Walker is avenging his son’s death, who was killed in the line of duty, along with so many of the troops sent to Iran. The group of ex-military men are all bitter for various reasons. There are also the usual corrupt politicians who don’t agree with the Presidents wish to expose double-dealing arms manufacturers and make peace with the Middle East, removing all troops – because it will be bad for their bank accounts and charges of treason would rip them of their fancy suits. And let’s not forget the lollipop sucking hacker that overrides all security and enables missiles to be launched to any location his employer may choose without interference.
It seems with this movie, and so many others like it, America wants to see America burn, and watch it rise again. It sure is a strange sense of patriotism. But throughout the ages, people have always enjoyed the horror of watching their own destruction and the relief when one man saves them all.
Unfortunately the star cast can’t save the poor script, layered with clichés and weak attempts at humour. Don’t judge their performances too harshly because there wasn’t much for them to work with. It is fair to say this $150 million movie doesn’t live up to the hype created. It is, however, action-packed! Sometimes a few famous names, a jab at the patriotic spirit and a few explosions are enough to attract the masses.