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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

White House Down | Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Richard Jenkins, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Joey King, James Woods | Review

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4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn


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4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD

White House Down

If you are fan of Roland Emmerich's films (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012,) you know that the director loves blowing up national landmarks. Of course, it must fit into the fictional plot.  His latest action thriller, White House Down gives the filmmaker yet another opportunity to do so. Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx are billed as the lead stars, but the fact is, Tatum is the central focus.

The formula is similar to Die Hard, but instead of Bruce Willis as John McClane, we have Channing Tatum as John Cale stepping up to the plate as the kick ass, heroic savior.  It's not coincidental that his initials are JC.

Written by James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man), the story is set in Washington, D.C., and revolves around John Cale (Channing Tatum), an Afghanistan war vet and divorced father working as a security officer for the speaker of the House, Eli Raphelson (Richard Jenkins) but has aspirations of joining the Secret Service and protecting the President (Jamie Foxx, doing his best impression of Obama). Despite his documented history of military heroism, Cale is turned down for the job after being interviewed by Special Agent Carol Finnerty (a tough, pull no punches, Maggie Gyllenhaal), a former friend (or maybe former fling) from college who thinks he is not responsible enough and therefore unqualified to protect the President.

Although clearly disappointed and bummed out, Cale is unable to tell the bad news to his daughter, Emily (a scene stealing, Joey King), who is spending the day with him. Having basically been an absentee Dad, in an attempt to make a good impression and bond with spunky and smart,11 year old Emily, who is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to politics, Cale surprises her with a tour of the White House.

During the tour, Emily makes a trip to the ladies room when suddenly a bomb is detonated at the Capitol building. Set off by a heavily armed paramilitary group/right wing extremists, dressed as handymen led by Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke, Zero Dark Thirty) that were hired to infiltrate the property and do no good, it soon becomes clear the explosion is meant as a diversion, in order to seize the White House and kidnap the President, who has just announced his controversial plan for an historic peace treaty for the Middle East.

All this sets the stage for what is forthcoming.  Separated from his daughter, Cale, who just happens to be at the right place at the right time when the sh-t hits the fan, finds himself the only person left in the White House with the skills and experience to take action to find and protect Emily and save the President. What follows is the typical fight against time, as the invasion force demands $400 million dollars in ransom, threatening to first kill members of the President's cabinet then the Commander in Chief and blow up the White House,”which is supposed to be the safest house in the world”, if their demands aren't met. The only thing interfering in their best laid plans says one of the villains, is “some shmuck from one of the tours”.

As the military and authorities stand by the wayside helpless, Emmerich escalates the action with Cale at the forefront going full force like a one man army, encountering and fighting off the bad guys in over the top sequences involving hand-to-hand, combat helicopters/planes crashes, gunfire, explosions and a (ridiculous) car chase on the White House grounds.

As the plot thickens, there is more than meets the eye as new details about the real motives and who is behind this conspiracy are revealed. Cast in pivotal supporting roles are James Woods as Martin Walker, the retiring head of the Secret Service, and Michael Murphy as the Vice President. If you want to know how each character figures into the scenario, you will have to find out yourself. No spoilers here.

Hunky, charismatic Tatum, who has stated he did most of the stunts for this physically demanding role, has what it takes to be a great action hero and totally delivers the goods.  In addition, the special effects are top notch, seamless and believable.

One can't argue that the plot isn't illogical, contrived and preposterous.  Yet, I have to admit, I  was still entertained by what can best be described as another action filled summer popcorn movie.  Like John Cale's self appointed mission, the end result is commendable.

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