Aliens famously blew up the White House in the movie “Independence Day.” Director Roland Emmerich trashes the White House all over again in his latest film, “White House Down.” But the difference between these two movies … is that “Independence Day” is more realistic.
You won’t see a sillier movie all year than “White House Down.” It may be dealing with superficially serious matters – terrorists, national security, nuclear warfare, conspiracies – but it’s so ridiculous, you just have to shake your head and laugh. To tell the truth, there are probably more laughs in “White House Down” than there are in “Hangover 3,” although not intentionally.
The premise of the movie is that incredibly well-organized and heavily armed terrorists manage to sneak inside the White House and blow up huge sections of it in an effort to kidnap the president. They successfully kill all the White House guards and every one of the Secret Service. They’re incredibly efficient, but not so efficient that they can outwit an 11-year-old girl and her Secret Service-wannabe father (played by Channing Tatum.) They just happen to be on a White House tour at the time of the attack.
This failure-prone dad is NOT going to let a little coup d’état cause him to disappoint his little girl again.
Okay, now that we’ve set up that dynamic, we have another dynamic to get to – that between this dad, the rejected Secret Service applicant, and the president played by Jamie Foxx.
Over the course of this harrowing day, Tatum gets so comfortable protecting the president that he even starts bossing him around. At one he’s driving the presidential limo on the White House lawn, trying to elude the terrorists gunfire, when he convinces the Prez to use the rocket launcher in the back seat.
“I know you’re into to peace and all that, but you’ve got to stick that thing out there and go to work,” Tatum demands.
There are times when “White House Down” threatens to turn into an all-out comedy, like when the president changes into his Michael Jordan running shoes. When a dying terrorist grabs the president’s feet, the Prez yells, “Get your hands off my Jordans!”
The rest of the movie is a series of action set pieces, each one a little more preposterous than the last. The action involves an exploding Air Force One, lots of Black Hawks being shot down and crashing onto the White House grounds, and the White House itself, when not being gutted by bombs, goes up in flames.
I haven’t even mentioned the conspiracies layered upon conspiracies at the highest levels of the government that allow all this to happen.
After one particularly harrowing development in a series of ridiculously harrowing crises, Tatum says “You got to be kidding me right now!”
That’s the proper response to just about everything that happens in this movie – you’ve got to be kidding me.