Just like buses, we have no films about the White House being attacked and then suddenly there are two being developed in parallel.
Unlike the earlier lesser budgeted “Olympus Down”, this is the Roland Emmerich version, with money to burn, corn to pop and with no qualms in blowing stuff up real good.
Cale (Channing Tatum) is a ex-military type, now part of the security detail for the Speaker of the House (Richard Jenkins). Life is easy, despite separation from his partner, the somewhat strained relationship with his daughter Emily (Joey King) and the need to draw his pistol on a squirrel.
Like most teenagers Joey is sullen, sulks a lot and dislikes everyone, like forever. Unusually and rather improbably, she does like politics, especially Obama lookalike President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Dad will become a hero once more, if he can only score tour passes for the White House.
Cale manages to combine the trip with a quick interview with old flame/buddy Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaall), in a doomed attempt to move onto the Presidential security detail. Following what must be worst interview of the year, it is obvious that he should enjoy his time in the White House, he may not be back any time soon.
Meanwhile, bad guy’s in overalls alert. Instead of improving the audio in the White House cinema room, the right-wing influenced baddies have some sub-woofer bass of their own to add. It’s no spoiler but whenever anyone leaves for work and says, “I will be home late but you know that I love you”, either they are devoted husband or a potential terrorist. Walker head of White House security (James Wood) proving this theory rather neatly here.
President Walker is negotiating nothing less than peace in the Middle East, so has plenty of time for getting the Marine 1 choppers to do the “thing”, swooping low through down-town Washington DC on his way home, solely for his enjoyment.
Of course the road to Middle East peace is fraught with dangers, encountering terrorists in the Oval office being but one. Luckily when the chips are down Cale is there to help Sawyer save the world and the American way.
The film starts as a updated version of Die Hard in the White House, including white shirts, lift shafts and so forth, before descending half way through into almost parody. Instead of a thriller the film borders on outright comedy, whether this is intentional by all concerned is debatable.
Later with the presidential limo careering around the gardens, President brandishing a rocket launcher out the window, someone says “you don’t see that everyday”. No you do not, not in any half decent movie anyway. There are too many scenes in a short review to poke fun at but certainly the final sequence, bearing in mind all that has happened before, is so incredulous one must question the term “Writer” before James Vanderbilt’s name in IMDB.
Tatum is ok in a square jawed, wooden type of way. Gyllenhall tries hard with a frankly implausible role and James Wood does his best but knows he is beaten. Jimmie Nelson as mad hacker Tyler just rehashes other screen-roles and achieves little. Central Bad guy duty falls to Jason Clark who does at least seem willing to make a half hearted attempt. However, Joey King is perhaps the only actor to come out with any credit, acting under duress she does evoke a sliver of emotion, something all other actors fail to generate.
We must however reserve some separate criticism for Foxx, with a role that must surely represent one of the worst of his career. Clearly not knowing whether to play the character straight or as a buffoon, settling for somewhere between. Not presidential in anyway and without a shred of real feeling in any scenes he attempts. Harrison Ford would have kicked his butt, straight off Air Force One. Arguably a good drinking game would be “who is not sworn in as President” by the end of the movie.
This is the worse kind of lazy movie making, throwing a huge budget at the screen with no thought on what you are attempting to achieve. Disappointing on every conceivable level, apart from maybe set creations, which are impressive. The film also attempts to tastelessly mix in contemporary world politics and the sacrifices made by those in the armed forces, with dubious results.
Poor box office barely covering production costs before marketing, proved that not even the causal movie goer was fooled. This may prove a low water mark for director Emmerich, those trusting him with millions of dollars for two Independence Day sequels (ID Forever I and II), obviously have nerves of steel.
If you really must watch a film about an attack on the White House, then Watch “Olympus Down” which at least is adequate.
Weak acting, plotting and bordering on unintentional comedy this fails to deliver. Unless you are a hardcore Tatum fan or studying movie making and require a lesson in “how not to make a big budget film”, spend your movie watching dollar elsewhere.