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Film Review: White House Down


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whdIf Hollywood is to be believed, it would appear that the safest house in the world is anything but. White House Down is a reincarnation of the straight-faced Olympus Has Fallen in which Gerard Butler saved the President of the United States as the White House crumbled amid rocket launchers and machine guns.

This time, it falls to Channing Tatum to protect the President (Jamie Foxx) from attack and does so in a much more playful and bonkers manner than Olympus Has Fallen. That, however, doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

You only need to see a few films from director Roland Emmerich's back catalogue to realise what sort of territory we are in with White House Down. Emmerich has attempted to destroy the White House once before in Independence Day and his other disaster films Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 are all equally as crazy and hectic as his latest. Channing Tatum plays a Capitol policeman who, whilst on a tour of the White House with his daughter, becomes entangled in a terrorist attack and must protect the President whilst also looking after his daughter.

At first, Channing Tatum may seem like an odd choice to play the central role in an action blockbuster such as this and he has come under a fair amount of criticism (most of it quite unfair). Whilst it's true that Tatum often dances between cinematic eye-candy and brute muscle, his performance in White House Down does at least make some attempt at creating character depth – helped by his character's relationship with his daughter (played by Joey King).

For a film of this type – absurdly ludicrous, bonkers and chaotic – Tatum puts in a perfectly adequate performance and becomes quite likeable (even when doing doughnuts in the presidential limo on the White House lawn). Aside from Tatum, Jamie Foxx appears to be having great fun as a rocket launcher-branding president and the ever-reliable Maggie Gyllenhaal stays cool in what can only be called a bad day at the office.

The action moves along at a fair old pace and never really drags. Indeed, it is so stupidly mad that it never really has the chance to lag. Emmerich is clearly in his element when making films such as this and, as these type of films go, it really is watchable. Whether it's tanks, jet fighters or nuclear weapons, it is all thrown into the mix with a body count higher than an episode of Midsomer Murders.

What makes this film much more enjoyable than Olympus Has Fallen is the fact that it appears to take itself less seriously. The on-screen interaction between the two leads was amusing to watch and it was clear that the film was steering away from the serious tone which often makes this type of movie incredibly dull. Yes, the action is outrageous, yes, the script is a case of painting (or should that be writing?!) by numbers and the editing could be tighter, but when the film-makers are clearly having so much fun with a genre film such as this, what's the point of moaning about its lack of lucidity?

If you have to pick between the two, White House Down is more enjoyable than Olympus Has Fallen. But let's hope that the studios have had enough of blowing up the Oval Office because, let's face it, more than two such films in a year could really become grating.

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