White House Down - Cinema Review

'an unashamed big dumb action movie, in a way films in the action genre rarely get away with these days'

Heavy on guns and explosions and light on plot and character, White House Down is an unashamed big dumb action movie, in a way films in the action genre rarely get away with these days. Whilst it’s far from perfect, White House Down does just about get away with it through its enjoyment factor, its able and willing cast, and the fact that it has big dumb action movie veteran Roland Emmerich in the director’s chair.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that White House Down could at times be mistaken for an attempt to reboot the Die Hard franchise, with Channing Tatum taking over the lead from Bruce Willis. There are more similarities between John McClane and Tatum’s character John Cale than just their names. Both are policemen, both have family issues, and both end up wearing dirty white vests for large stretches of the film. Tatum’s character even delivers a sarcastic quip to a bad guy via a walkie-talkie at least once. Yes, White House Down is unmistakably and unashamedly influenced by Die Hard. But the difference between this and films like A Good Day To Die Hard is that the focus is on entertainment. McClane’s more recent adventures have felt muddled, dour and devoid of fun. White House Down has the US President firing a rocket launcher out of a car window. Now that’s fun.

It also helps that you’ve got some talent throughout the cast here too. Tatum takes a while to settle into the action hero role, but when he gets there his performance is satisfyingly enjoyable. Jamie Foxx as President James Sawyer opposite Tatum is charming, playing the character somewhere between Barack Obama and The West Wing’s Jed Bartlet. Foxx and Tatum don’t have instant chemistry, with some scenes together jarring when they are first paired up, but it’s a partnership that works better and better as the film wears on. James Woods is a welcome presence in full scenery-chewing mode as the main antagonist, assisted ably by a strong turn from Jason Clarke. Elsewhere the support is less impressive. Richard Jenkins is predictably good but underutilised, Maggie Gyllenhaal is given pretty much nothing of interest to do, and Joey King as Cale’s daughter Emily grates most of the time she is on screen.

The plot is simple, but engaging enough with a couple of pleasing twists, although, once you get to the point where it’s Tatum and Foxx versus the bad guys who’ve taken over the White House you probably won’t be that fussed. The action gets more and more overblown as the film progresses, so as long as you’ve switched the analytical part of your brain firmly off you’ll be more than happy to go along with the ride. White House Down is never anything particularly memorable or of substance, but then it never tries to be. Emmerich has made his name creating Hollywood popcorn action to lose yourself in for a couple of hours, and White House Down for the most part thankfully ends up as one of his more entertaining efforts.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment