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article imageReview: ‘White House Down’ is the right kind of ridiculous Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 28, 2013 in Entertainment
In ‘White House Down’, a Capitol policeman is unofficially promoted to Secret Service when the president’s life is threatened by an organized takeover of the Executive Mansion.
If you took Hollywood's word for it, you'd have to believe the U.S. president was in constant, imminent danger of kidnapping or assassination. Whether the threat is terrorists or aliens, someone is always trying to kill him or her. The motivations tend to be extreme one way or another, from personal offense to world domination. The hero is traditionally a regular guy in the wrong place at the right time who singlehandedly takes down an entire operation. In White House Down, there's a little of each of these elements at play.
John Cale (Channing Tatum) wants nothing more than to make his politically obsessed daughter proud of him so he became a Capitol policeman with the goal of one day joining the Secret Service. The opportunity to prove his skills arises unexpectedly when they are on a White House tour and the building is hijacked by terrorists. With no other options, Cale is President James Sawyer's (Jamie Foxx) only hope of survival.
Hopefully Tatum's G.I. Joe co-star wouldn't be upset by this, but Cale could be this generation's John McClane. This realization is no more evident than when the battle takes to the rooftop and Cale is taking heavy fire. Like his predecessor, Cale is off-duty with extensive skills that come in handy in the situation; he relays information to authorities outside the building who are attempting to get a handle on things from their position; and he emerges from the rubble bloody, dirty and in his undershirt to the arms of a loved one.
This movie understands that the action genre can be a lot of fun so they don't take any of it too seriously, whether it's the predictable dialogue or cheesy ending. But knowing what they are going to say or who the culprits are behind the whole scheme does not make the film any less fun to watch. It’s still very entertaining to see it all unfold.
Director Roland Emmerich is a veteran of the blockbuster special effects picture and it shows. Even with the restricted location of the White House, he manages to expand the narrative to a variety of settings, including an extensive lawn chase and an escape through the elevator shaft. The slow destruction of the building is spread throughout the film with the continuous threat of total annihilation.
Tatum and Foxx work well together on screen. Tatum meets the physical demands of his character, flying through windows and taking on three or more bad guys at once. Foxx’s role is a bit more decorative, leaving the hard stuff to his protector. The only cliché not invoked is a physically heroic act by the president.
White House Down is exactly the type of mindless amusement for which the beginning of summer vacation calls.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal
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