Director: Roland Emmerich | 132 minutes | action, drama, thriller | Actors: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, Joey King, James Woods, Nicolas Wright, Jimmi Simpson, Michael Murphy, Rachelle Lefevre, Lance Reddick, Matt Craven, Jake Weber, Peter Jacobson, Barbara Williams, Kevin Rankin, Garcelle Beauvais, Falk Hentschel, Romano Orzari, Jackie Geary, Andrew Simms, Catherine Lemieux, Vincent Leclerc, Andreas Apergis, Victor Cornfoot, Anatoly Zinoviev, Lee Villeneuve, Patrick Sabongui, Anthony Lemke, Kyle Gatehouse
Roland Emmerich is known as the director of the larger disaster film. For example, in his “The Day After Tomorrow” the Earth was threatened by a new ice age and in “2012” he even let the entire world perish. But perhaps Emmerich’s most famous image is that iconic “Independence Day” image of having the White House exploded by aliens.
Quite evidently, the White House also occupies a central place in “White House Down”. When protagonist John Cale (Channing Tatum) has a failed job interview for the position of security guard at the presidential palace, he takes his daughter Emily (a promising Joey King) on a tour of the well-known white building out of some pity. At that moment, the monumental building is attacked by mysterious paramilitaries. It’s up to Cale to not only save his daughter from evil, but also to save President James Sawyer (played by Jamie Foxx) and the entire United States from destruction.
It sounds like “White House Down” of coincidences and hangs together and credibility is reaching a more than obscure point. And it is. It is such a film in which the bad guys with their enormous shooting arsenal know how to aim better than the countless victims who fall, but cannot shoot as sharp as the true protagonists of the story. A film in which bulletproof vests are non-existent. The film opens with a meticulous security check that gives a nice insight into how things could actually go, but when push comes to shove, the raid by the gang of terrorists is very simple. And how real is it that a group of tourists is lucky enough to come face to face with the president on a tour of the White House. The acting is also not something to write about. Foxx plays as if he was just plucked off the street as president. Tatum has a particularly difficult time in the scenes where the action does not play a role.
But do all these shortcomings also make for an abominable film? Not that. The story is more to the body than many other blockbusters. And most importantly, it is plot-wise. In the background, an ingenious political game plays, which – without answering or criticizing, yes – has its origins in recent historiography. Furthermore, “White House Down” does not make sense in political or sentimental drama or in mindless action, but retains a fine balance where humor also has a primary task. Although the film is quite predictable, far-fetched and clichéd, at times it remains exciting (motif) and entertaining enough and it does not tread too many well-trodden paths to avoid getting bored.
“White House Down” also looks slick. The action largely takes place in and around the White House, which has been reconstructed brick by brick. The façade of the building is of course world famous, but inside there are countless places that ordinary people cannot see and that are given an (occasionally fictional) face in the film, from the enigmatic tunnels through which Kennedy allowed Marilyn Monroe to slip in to the secret the president’s bunker. Furthermore, “White House Down” brings spectacular chases on the presidential lawn, several explosions and more of that kind of outrageous destruction.
Do not expect a realistic film from ‘White House Down’, but a crazy spectacle where 1 + 1 does not always have to be 2, but sometimes also 3. Just because it is possible. “White House Down” moves between magical realist nonsense and vulgar authorism and succeeds to satisfaction.