White House Down

Rating: Should have been titled “White House Down the Drain”.

White House DownI really want to say something good about White House Down, but I can’t. I really want to say that Roland Emmerich’s film is an upgrade to the prior film this summer based on the same theme, Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen, but I can’t. The only thing I can say is that if the Catholic Church is right about the existence of Purgatory before being admitted to Heaven, then this will lessen my stay if I can avoid Hell.

With few exceptions, White House Down is the spitting image of Olympus. The President’s home has been taken over by terrorists, and in the process practically blown to bits. Ironically, the only really interesting characters in either film are the militants, played by Rick Yune in Olympus and Jason Clarke and James Woods in White House. Quite frankly, this tells you all you need to know about either film.

What makes the premise of both films so profoundly annoying as well as completely absurd is that the terrorists are capable of killing anyone except for a couple of buffed Secret Service agents, here being Channing Tatum and the prior one Gerard Butler. Both men literally become super heroes, conquering a group of bad guys so talented that they could invade and blow up our White House and yet not kill these two idiots.

The only really interesting thing about White House Down is the right-wing criticism of Jamie Foxx as the President. To follow-up their continual attack on President Obama, they apparently consider this film the attempt of Hollywood’s liberal elites to sing the praises of our President. The accusation is profoundly laughable, and is more a comment on their twisted mentality than anything close to reality.

What is even more grating about White House Down is the role played by the young Joey King as Tatum’s 12-year old daughter. Caught behind enemy lines in the White House with her dad, you are forced to believe that she is more savvy than anyone but the old man. Let me simply say that I passionately disliked her, and it was the only time I can remember rooting for the quick death of an adolescent.

Mr. Tatum comes off as little more than a virile temptation to induce his female admirers to see the film. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a Secret Service agent on the outside of the White House looking in, and she is the only female who comes close to contributing anything remotely meaningful to this forgettable film.

While few people play a deranged human being better than James Woods, it is Jason Clarke’s role as the terrorist Stenz that makes the film remotely tolerable. He was a standout good guy as the American torture expert in last year’s Zero Dark Thirty, and he is equally adept playing a talented former American soldier who is looking to get even.

Regrettably, Jamie Foxx’s role as the American President is like watching him do a stand-up comedy routine. Furthermore, it appears that Director Emmerich has clearly lost his mojo that previously brought us semi-entertaining movie extravaganzas as 2012 (2009); The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and Independence Day (1996). Good grief, a quick apology to movie fans wouldn’t hurt his cinematic standing.