White House Down (2013)

whdposterBy: Bill Arceneaux (Two Beers) –
How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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In case you all were wondering if time would mend my heart, no – I still stand by my Olympus Has Fallen rating. Now, it WASN’T “walk out of the theater” bad (like The Hangover Part III), but it WAS a completely joyless experience. Well, for me anyways. It was a cheap production trying for something greater, using a premise meant solely for action fun. Incorrect execution and a misunderstanding of the material, basically.

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The visual representation of my thoughts on Olympus Has Fallen

So, with a month off from the site, what did the editors choose for me to review next? Another White House invasion flick. Directed by Roland Emmerich. Why couldn’t I have gotten Man of Steel? Why would the…

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…a buddy action movie with the President of the United States? You have my attention.

A Toast

Normally, I go through the plot synopsis before the first beer, but with a title like White House Down, there is no need. Basically, take Olympus Has Fallen (I wouldn’t), and replace the North Korean army with a group of weaponized Americans with a grudge towards the current administration. Of course, most are ex military, but it would’ve been funny had Joe Bob Sister-Humper shown up with a rifle and a Tea Party flag.

Our President is Jaime Foxx. Comparisons to Obama are natural and understandable (just trying to reassure you racists out there) but these men are totally different. Where Obama continues to allow military operations in foreign countries, Foxx calls for pulling out and investing resources in universal health care and ending poverty. He also name drops the military industrial complex. Fox News, take note – THIS is a radical President. And, frankly, just what we need.

If its representation of a (gasp) caring President doesn’t already clue you in to the embracing of the fantastical elements of the premise, then the tone will. Throughout the movie, there are little moments of slight comedy. Nothing too silly, never goes on for too long, and feels appropriate for a movie like this. “Get your hands off my Jordans!” and banter over dropping a rocket launcher are much better than “I’m gonna stab you in the brain with a knife.” White House Down is not reaching for political thriller or drama at all – Die Hard in the White House is what it is and is all it wants to be.

Beer Two

But, maybe it wasn’t beholden to the Die Hard formula enough. There is decent chemistry between the two leads, good action, fun atmosphere and all, but it’s missing… something. I mean, it’s actually rather well structured, things are established and used again later, and it all pays off in the end. But…

…the villain is James Woods. He’s good and all, but he treats his role like Sam Jackson in The Negotiator as opposed to Alan Rickman in Die Hard. Flash. Spark. Woods’ character didn’t have that James Bond bad guy feel, which would’ve made for great back and forth dialogue between him and the good guys. This probably doesn’t deserve a beer, but when you cast James Woods in a role where he should really stretch his acting muscles and just kinda stands around? Eh.

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Keep reaching, James. Maybe the villain I wanted is inside your spleen.

Verdict

2beers

What could’ve made this movie better? Chuck Norris. Though, I’m not sure he would defend a “More Obama than Obama” President.

 

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: if you were expecting other G.I. Joes to show up.

Take a Drink: because Django is in the White House. Anyone want to write Django Goes to D.C.?

Do a Shot: knowing that nuke codes are stored on an iPhone. Pray that WW3 doesn’t happen when the President tries to play Angry Birds.

Take a Drink: for every fun White House fact

Do a Shot: whenever someone new steps up and becomes the bad-ass of the moment.

About Bill Arceneaux

Independent film critic from New Orleans and member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA).

4 comments

  1. Yeah great review, and I agree 100 percent. This movie was just so much fun to watch, and I think way better than Olympus Has Fallen.

  2. Henry J. Fromage

    Quality review and I quite enjoyed the film as well. One thing though- Foxx was absolutely emulating Obama’s speech patterns, especially when he was doing press conferences earlier in the film. That’s where the (very logical) comparison comes from.

  3. Olympus has fallen almost made me miss this one. (shades of deep impact/Armageddon summer) There was nothing that blew me away, but plenty of typical action movie fun that was more Die Hard than the latest Die Hard sequel. (How is that possible) A great summer movie, glad I caught it.

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