In 1998 there was Armageddon and Deep Impact, in 2006 there was The Prestige and The Illusionist, and now in 2013 there is Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. For whatever reason it looks like Hollywood enjoys releasing eerily similar films right next to each other. The thing worth mentioning however is the fact that usually one of these films is critically praised while the other is simply thrown under the bus. To have two similar films exist within such a small time frame of one another as a rule, means that one is going to overshadow the other. So far it seems that the trend has continued with Roland Emmerich’s new big budget summer blockbuster White House Down. Most people are simply referring to it as “the other White House action movie” in comparison to Olympus Has Fallen.
Channing Tatum stars as Cale, a decorated military veteran who now works security for the Speaker of the House. Enticed by his government loving daughter, he decides to interview for the President’s Secret Service team. After his interview, his daughter asks him to go on one of the White House tours which he respectively agrees to. While on the tour, a bomb is detonated at the National Archive building, which distracts the majority of The White House’s security and allows for a paramilitary group commanded by Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke) to seize control of The White House.
I must say that going into this film my expectations were quite low. Even though I tend to enjoy Roland Emmerich’s other films (Stargate, Independence Day, The Patriot), after seeing Olympus Has Fallen, I wasn’t prepared for White House Down to be a good film. I will suck it up and say that I completely and utterly misjudged this film beforehand. This is the film that Olympus Has Fallen wanted to be and completely missed the mark on. White House Down is a thrilling, funny, action-packed roller-coaster that doesn’t take itself too serious, which amounts to an all-around great film. The dynamics of Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx’s on-screen friendship can be directly compared to that of Riggs and Murtaugh in the series of Lethal Weapon films. The somewhat silly situations they get themselves into infuse humor that is genuinely funny into a very serious situation. Couple all of that with remarkably well executed set piece moments that will widen your eyes with amazement and emblazon your ears with audio excellence; and you have an all-around great amalgamation on film.
Even though I am going to be glossing over a lot more of what I loved about this film, I must tread into what I felt could have been improved. My main complaint has to be the ending. To put it simply, I’ve seen it before time and time again. I’m not going to spoil what it is or even say that I hated it, I just wanted to see something new, something fresh. The ending wraps up all of the loose ends in a nice bow and says “here, take this”. It just felt very lazy and uninspired, and for everything the film does right, it’s the one thing that it does wrong.
While Olympus Has Fallen left a bad taste in my mouth due to its uninteresting characters and B-movie CGI effects, White House Down will have you singing the praises of Rolland Emmerich’s talent yet again.
FINAL TAKE: 8/11
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About the Movie
Synopsis: When the White House is attacked by an unknown military group, a Capitol security guard springs into action to help get the President to safety.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Actors: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Run time: 131 min