White House Down: It's action-movie fun

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJune 27, 2013 

Film Review White House Down

This film publicity image released by Columbia Pictures shows Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum, left, in a scene from "White House Down." (AP Photo/Sony Columbia Pictures, Reiner Bajo)

REINER BAJO — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Poor White House. Twice a year, the place is devastated by terrorists and the government and national security compromised. Fortunately in both cases, beefy misfits save the president, the nation and the day.

Movie No. 1 was the dreadful Olympus has Fallen with the equally dreadful and dreadfully dull Gerard Butler as the day saver. Movie No 2., now in theaters, is White House Down. Easier on the eyes and the more charismatic Channing Tatum is the film's hero.

Tatum is John Cale. He wants to join the secret service and has a job interview at the White House. Denied the job, he and his daughter join a White House tour. Obviously, writer James Vanderbilt penned this before the sequester, when you could actually take a White House tour.

Villains headed by James Woods' White House security chief want to take the president and the government down because his peace plan for the Middle East has the U.S. withdrawing all its troops from the region. The evil military-industrial complex doesn't like the money-losing idea.

They try to grab the president, Tatum's Cale steps in and saves him, and predictably, the nation.

An excellent supporting cast picks up the pieces. Woods and Jason Clark are excellent baddies. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Richard Jenkins have pivotal roles. Jamie Foxx is perfect as President James Sawyer.

Kudos also have to go to newcomer Joey King, who plays Cale's daughter Emily. She's excellent and has a bright future -- probably in better movies.

Yes, White House Down is cliche and politically correct. It's not rocket science. The action and characters are of the paint-by-numbers variety. The movie also drags a bit toward the end.

White House Down is directed by Roland Emmerich whose sole purpose in life seems to be the destruction of treasured and historical monuments and places, and sometimes the world. Emmerich did 2012 and Independence Day and takes a pot shot at the latter in a funny exchange early in White House Down.

We'll leave his troubling love and penchant for destruction to psychologists. What Emmerich does well that other directors don't is destruction. He is very good at his craft. White House Down has excellent, believable effects, plenty of action and is white-knuckle fun.

Best of all, it is sometimes really funny. That's why White House Down works and Olympus has Fallen does not.

Director: Roland Emmerich

Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins, Joey King

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence, some language. It is playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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