Review: 'White House' is 'Down' in the dumps


You better run for cover, because the new, so-called action-thriller "White House Down" has two big strikes heading its way.

First, the whole idea of a White House under siege movie already feels horribly dated, given the March release of "Olympus Has Fallen."

Second, and this is the important thing: "White House Down" is a terrible movie. As unoriginal as "Olympus as Fallen" was, it still managed to rise about its obvious flaws, lack of logic and "gimme a break" moments to become a decent flick.

A ridiculous, annoying, excessive crash-boom-bang fest that hearkens the action genre heyday of the 1980s, "White House Down" assumes anybody who watched those movies back then out left their brains in the '80s, too. It's so bad that the film's talented cast members look lost trying to fight their way out of the chaos and movie that's crumbling around them.

Much like "Olympus Has Fallen," "White House Down" centers around a Capitol officer with a past. Both happen to be in the right place at the right time when the White House comes under attack, and it's only them who can rescue the president and a child in peril.

In "Olympus Has Fallen," it's Mike (Gerard Butler) who tries to save the president (Aaron Eckhart), the president's son (Finley Jacobson) and ultimately, the world.

In "White House Down," it's Cale (Channing Tatum) who tries to save the president (Jamie Foxx), and Cale's estranged daughter (Joey King) and effectively, the world.

See my review of the film with Pat Evans on "KARE 11 News at 11" below.

I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying the eventual outcome of "White House Down" is utterly predictable, as Cale dispatches the bad guys one-by-one -- "Die Hard"-style -- as he ferrets out a mole within the White House. And yes, he discovers there's a mole who has much bigger plans than just seizing the Capitol grounds.

If that lazy storyline isn't bad enough, the narrative is told in part through those fail-safe "live news reports" where faux reporters sappily tell us what's going on every second, as if we're not smart enough to figure it out ourselves. Add that, along with some failed one-liners, slow-motion action and -- like "Olympus Has Fallen" -- a government that doesn't have a plan in place when the bad guys strike with relative ease, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The biggest problem with "White House Down" is a movie's insistence, once again, to vomit Hollywood's political leanings on us. Whether filmmakers and actors want to side with the right or the left, honestly, I could care less: unless it bleeds into what we see on the big screen. Leave the political discourse to 24-hour cable networks. This is supposed to be entertainment, remember?

At least there are attempts at some lighthearted moments in "White House Down," but truth be told, there's not much funny or whimsical apart from some passable jokes by a White House tour guide (Nicolas Wright). Unlike the utterly stupid "Fast & Furious 6" -- where the film was so ridiculous that it instantly qualified for the "so bad it's good" category -- "White House Down's" stupidity only elicits groans, not guffaws.

In fact, the only people who are getting real laughs are the film's actors and filmmakers, knowing that people are buying tickets to this dud and effectively, keeping these big-screen heroes employed.

The guy who really needs to go away is director Roland Emmerich, whose career has been up and down (mostly down) since "Independence Day" in 1996.

"White House Down" marks an all-new low for the filmmaker, who appears to be so desperate for a hit that he's reportedly talking about doing a pair of sequels to "Independence Day." Visiting the nation's Capitol again is clearly on Emmerich's mind, that is, if the in-joke he squeezes in about "ID4" in "White House Down" is any indication.

Somebody should have shut down "White House Down" when they had the chance.

"White House Down," rated R, 1 star out of four.

See the trailer for "White House Down" below.

What other critics are saying ...

Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gives "White House Down" is 3 1/2 stars out of 4, saying it "is wonderfully violent and often laugh-out-loud funny, a shopworn premise resuscitated as a sweaty, rousing, ironic, intense, movie-love-reaffirming free-for-all."

Chris Hewitt of the Pioneer Press gives the film 2 1/2 stars, saying, "'White House Down' is too long to sustain its entertaining silliness, but there are about 90 good minutes here."

Bring Me The News film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11” and WCCO Radio. As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed more than 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.

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