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Often Hollywood movies come in pairs, so 2013 saw two that, a decade or
so after terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,
felt able to represent an assault on another iconic American building:
the office of the President. First out of the trap was "White House
Down" which I saw at the cinema and rather enjoyed. "Olympus Has
Fallen" was released later and I waited until it was on DVD to catch it
The basic plot of the two movies is remarkably similar: bad guys seize the White House and capture the President before attempting to take over control of all US missile forces, while a military helicopter attack fails and a lone agent succeeds with a kid in the middle of the mayhem. The major difference is that "WHD" had twice the budget of "OHF" and deploys much more special effects to give us bigger explosions and more aerial sequences.
However, in my view, "WHD" is inferior to "OHF": the capture of the White House is just too easy, the motivation of the attackers too personal, and the storyline too jokey, while Jamie Foxx is not as convincing a President as Aaron Eckhart and Channing Tatum does not come over as tough as Gerard Butler. But, heh, both are entertaining enough if one suspends all belief.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The second Die Hard in the White House movie of 2013, the other being
the you've probably already forgotten it Olympus Has Fallen, centres on
a secret service agent played by Channing Tatum fighting a White House
terrorist attack alongside the president. This is a huge, explosion
heavy summer blockbuster epic and it's directed by Roland Emmerich.
What a lot of people seem to fail to acknowledge is that Emmerich,
despite making Independence Day, is not a good director and this is
entirely evident in this ludicrous, brainless and utterly tension free
stupidity fest. OHF, despite being totally ludicrous, suffered from
playing it totally straight and that made the film less fun than it
might have been. WHD goes to the other end of the spectrum, and is
easily the stupidest, loudest and most nutty action film of 2013. It
benefits from a fun performance from Jamie Foxx as the president, and
the dialogue is pleasingly witty ("Can you not hit me on the head with
a rocket launcher while I'm trying to drive?") so it sort of gets the
tone right. There are occasional highlights, such as a claustrophobic
car chase around the White House lawn.
The quickest way to sum up this movie: This is no more than a mood board of action movie elements combined with awful CGI (Despite the big budget that's the best they can afford), set pieces which get bigger and bigger and somehow more boring than the last and a total lack of any kind of maturity. The editing throughout is awful and the film is incredibly clichéd, even daring to refer to Die Hard as the stupendously bland hero spends some of the film in a vest similar to Bruce Willis'. It has a rather stupid and unnecessary twist ending and the day is saved by a girl waving a flag. Even Maggie Gyllenhaal falls totally flat. Roland Emmerich proves that Independence Day was just a hit thanks to good luck and a good special effects team. The most infuriating thing about this movie is that it lacks the most important thing in an action movie: Tension. There is none of that here whatsoever. No tension at all. I didn't care about any of what was going on and while it would sometimes have an inspired popcorn movie thrill, it made for a dull Friday night viewing. I think Roland Emmerich has a few things to learn about the art of subtlety.
"Oh my god! The quarterback is toast!" was what I was expecting to hear
at some point in the movie. Reviewers commented that Olympus Has Fallen
was like a Die Hard set in the White House but after seeing this, White
House Down WAS Die Hard in the White House. It came complete with a
crew of bad guys with ulterior motives, a cocky computer hacker, a guy
at the wrong place and at the wrong time, and a hostage he deeply cared
Just because White House Down was another Die Hard wasn't a bad thing. Olympus Has Fallen was another Die Hard and I still liked it. The problem with White House Down was the cast, script and the PG rating. Let's start with the cast. Jamie Fox was unconvincing as president. He was too young, too angry and never appeared presidential. Then there's Channing Tatum. He has the charisma of a lamp shade. There's no way he can carry a movie, which was why he was teamed with Fox. He was wisely paired with another star, but unfortunately, it was the wrong star. Fox was miscast for his role and there was little chemistry between the two.
The script was weak. No clever lines said here. And the restraint and act of compassion shown by the bad guys made them appear rather benevolent. Add the lack of graphic violence to the not-so-bad bad guys and you have a PG rated, made-for-TV feel of a movie that lacked any real suspense.
James Woods was great, as always, and so was Maggie Gyllenhaal. And the story did have an interesting revenge aspect to it. But these weren't enough to keep me from being bored. Making things worse was this film's runtime of over 2 hours.
In short, if you have to see just one White House disaster movie, go see Olympus Has Fallen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The White House is attacked by terrorists and it is left to a DC police
officer and former vet to save the president.
PROS: "White House Down" is a surprisingly well acted action picture. Channing Tatum, who seems to have been hired for his muscular physique, manages some chops and Jamie Fox does a nice job as the President (who seems to be a frustrated athlete eager to redeem himself by kicking terrorist butt).
The special effects are spectacular. Lots of bullets ripping through walls, destroying offices, and general mayhem on a big budget scale. Nice sets. I had recently visited the White House, so it was nice to compare some of the tourist spots with these impressive recreations.
CONS: Given all the above, why would I score the picture so low? One word: script. While the outline might have sounded great in a board meeting, the resulting blueprint ended up a collection of clichés. Tatum is given a precocious daughter, just to increase the audience identification. She's then placed in peril and performs numerous acts of bravery that help her estranged father rescue the free world. It's one cardboard cutout character after another, with the villains the worst. Who didn't expect politicians to be behind it? "White House Down" is the type of movie that could have been assembled from a study group's opinion of this country's political dysfunction.
I've long had a theory that too many filmmakers go to those famous Hollywood parties and, after a few drinks and a few lines of coke, can't resist talking about the project they have in development. Their listeners, full of drinks and lines of coke as well, go home and wake up about noon the next day with this great idea for a film and they can't wait to get it into development, little realizing their great idea came from the haze of last night's conversations. White House Down appears to be one of those, or perhaps it's the other way around. This film and Olympus Has Fallen appear to have been made from the same script as seen through the eyes of two different directors. We have the president with his antique watch. Check. We have a frightened child in mortal danger playing hide and seek through the WH with the bad guys. Check. We have a White House where security is so tight a mouse can't get in without three forms of ID including a picture,thumbprint and eye recognition, yet it's a place where bad guys routinely have free and welcome access. (They were quite obvious to us, the audience, but the secret service remained blissfully unaware of their presence. And the bad guys had more sophisticated weaponry and computer technology than our armed forces, plus of course their very own obligatory narcissistic computer geek. Check We have secret service agents who are helpless and completely lost in the face of an emergency. They stand around looking concerned and talking into their wrists. Check. We have a traitor among them of course. Check. We have a safe room that is about as safe as a closet where the prisident might hide praying that he wouldn't have to sneeze. Check. And we have the wannabe secret service reject that just happens by mere chance to be on the scene. Check. He has more moxie, endurance and patriotism than all The Expendables together. Check. We have a satisfactory ending. Check. The brightest light in this film was the sparky WH tour guide (Nicolas Wright). In both these films there is plenty of action and evidently the producers figured that's all the public wants. Maybe they're right. But action isn't everything. These sorts of double exposure coincidences happen too often in the movie business. That's the reason for my pet theory. There was McCloud and Coogan's Bluff just off the top of my head. Over the years there have been many like that. You sit down and dig into the popcorn and suddenly, "Whoa. Didn't I just see this two weeks ago?" Could we get a little originality here sometime?
If you have seen "Olympus has fallen" you would be forgiven as to why the film makers have gone to the enormous expense of making this film..."White house Down" Maybe I should have not seen the other film first, this was an action film, my wife and myself like an action movies... This film has action, this film has some intrigue, some kind of plot....but the similarities between the two films are such that you could nearly run them both on the TV and see one melds into the other... The actors have done their stuff making some of the plot OK, some of the shooting and "blue screen" stuff was good...but and it's a big but...why have they bothered??????????? I have given it a 4 out of 10 because most is OK, could have been less, just OK...I wont bore you with the plot...it's obvious bearing in mind the title of the film... Now the thing is would you pay to see this at the cinema?....Would you be upset seeing both the films?...At the end of the day everyone has a preference to what they like...On this occasion I come away with the question "WHY" You pays your money you take the choice
Despite having the same premise as OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, which edged it out into theaters by a few months, WHITE HOUSE DOWN is actually the better film. While OLYMPUS reveled in 80's action clichés with jingoistic fervor and took itself way too seriously, WHITE HOUSE DOWN manages to have a sense of humor about it and also treats the subject with more currency. The faults of the movies are largely shared, with an overblown, ridiculous plot being the largest offender. Where WHITE HOUSE DOWN shines, though, is the great chemistry and banter between Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. On the flip side, I thought that way too much attention was paid to the villains and too much screen time was allotted to giving the audience a reason to care about them, as opposed to the protagonists, which were let down by the script. Ultimately, there was way too much going on behind the scenes, when the story could have stuck to being a movie about a dad trying to save his daughter, which is what is at the core of the narrative. Of course, you can blame Roland Emmerich for that. Most of his movies are cheesy, bombastic explosion/disaster-fests, and this is no different. However, after blowing up the White House in INDEPENDENCE DAY, and destroying the world in 2012, this comes off as a little underwhelming. However, despite the narrative clichés and overblown, convoluted story, there is a surprising amount of heart which distinguishes it from OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. I feel, had this one come out first, it would have been the bigger hit. As it stands, though, it didn't and generally audiences had a lower tolerance for what they probably considered to be a carbon copy of something that came out earlier that year. So if you haven't seen either one of these, WHITE HOUSE DOWN is the better film by a small, but significant, margin.
I'm not generally too much into real-world action movies, but sometimes
watch them when I get bored. And this is one of the better ones I've
seen I must say.
The beginning of the movie is too long and takes itself too seriously, and I had to push myself to carry through it and thought "when is the fun going to start?" but somewhere in the second act it loosens up and does go from "dumb action" to "dumb fun action".
When it's over-the-top and silly, it makes you smile, but don't watch it looking for real character development. The acting is good enough, the plot is good enough if a bit obvious.
I wouldn't watch it again, but it wasn't wasted time.
Strangely enough, 'White House Down' is one of two films about
terrorists taking over the White House released in the same year (the
other being 'Olympus Has Fallen'). They basically follow identical
plots of regarding terrorists taking over the White House when it just
so happens that by complete chance the one man capable of fighting
off an entire army of highly-trained mercenaries happens to be in the
Judging by how well both movies were received, it's widely accepted that Olympus Has Fallen is more serious, whereas White House Down is a little more light-hearted and cheesy. So, depending on whether you like your action films dark and moody, or light and fluffy, will go some way to which one you thought was better.
Personally, I preferred Olympus not because it was darker or anything, but simply because (although it too offered nothing new in the way of story lines), the action was a little more inventive and realistic. In White House Down, you have every single action movie cliché going. Everything from the hero's family being taken hostage, to the (strangely incompetent) special forces who offer nothing in the way of credible help, to an air strike on the building destined to be thwarted at the eleventh hour.
It's not a bad film, but it's certainly not a great one either. It's the sort of film you can walk in and out of and not miss a thing, nor fail to understand every aspect of the plot. If I wanted to watch a film about the White House being taken over, I'd watch Olympus again. Nothing bad here, but just nothing to warrant a second viewing.
I've just watched this film and to be honest, I'm a little bit annoyed
I stayed the course, albeit the sheer trash in front of your eyes and
ears will make you continue to watch in disbelief!! Two words to
describe this film - an insult!! Every typical Hollywood Americana
cliché is right there in this film - to such a degree it made me
cringe. It's that bad I actually started to feel embarrassed for the
Some use the excuse "you know this film was cheesy before you watched it". Well you know what.....remember that cheesy smell when what was already bad cheese has gone off......that's this film....not even worthy of hiding behind the claim to being a "cheesy" film.
Save yourself 120 minutes.
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