In Roland Emmerich we Trust!

Know this, it is what is. If you accept that going into White House Down, then you will probably enjoy the movie quite a bit. If you can’t, then it might be torment from the start.

White House Down is very much in the Die Hard and Air Force One genre, however, throw in the Roland Emmerich directorial touch, add some Independence Day, and somewhere in the middle, you have White House Down.

Emmerich creates a film that is the epitome of matinee movie fodder for the masses and a pre-4th of July patriotic celebration of America and the ability to overcome anything.

Both Die Hard (any of them) and Air Force One make an attempt to create a (sort of) real world scenario that helps viewers buy into the “yeah, this could happen” mentality needed for those movies to work.  White House Down doesn’t bother trying to get its viewers to buy in. Emmerich basically tells viewers to sit back, have fun, and don’t take it too seriously.

In short, Channing Tatum plays John Cale, a man seemingly in the wrong place at the wrong time, but ultimately proves to be the right man in the right situation. Cale is a U.S. Capitol Police Officer hoping to one day work as an elite Secret Service Agent watching over President Jaime Foxx, er, rather, James Sawyer, played by Foxx.

Cale gets his chance as terrorists (no spoilers, it’s pretty obvious), collapse upon the White House, taking hostages, leaving Tatum and Foxx to save the day.

This movie is non-stop action every bit of the way. It clocks in at over two hours. If the viewer gives into the lack of realism and accepts the absurdity of the scenario, then it will feel like a very quick two hours; otherwise, get ready for a very long ride.

Tatum does a fantastic job of carrying this movie. It could be one of those roles that solidifies him as a leading man with versatility. He can play drama, comedy and action, and all with fine effectiveness. John Cale is a character meant to be the everyman with a dream. He overcomes the most dire of situations to emerge a hero — the greatest of American dreams, right?

Foxx’s President Sawyer is the coolest Commander-in-Chief cinema has seen. Almost a little too cool, even for this movie. At times, it’s a little too much Foxx and not enough Sawyer, but nevertheless, equally entertaining.

Rounding out the cast are Maggie Gyllenhall, who’s Special Agent Finnerty helps to unintentionally put Cale in this situation, and James Woods who plays the Secret Service top dog, Agent Walker, a man with his own agenda.

White House Down is nowhere near as believable nor as good nor will it have the longevity of Die Hard, but it is fun, and should provide an enjoyable (and relentless) roller coaster of action for most movie goers.

Grade: B-

Review by Gordon Shelly, special to Influx Magazine