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Bad Movie Tuesday: White House Down (2013), two hours of Channing Tatum in a tank top wishing he was as convincing as Gerard Butler in Olympus Has Fallen.

April 1, 2014

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MY CALL: This movie really wishes it was Olympus Has Fallen (2013), but turns out to be more like the utter failure A Good Day to Die Hard (2013).  The action just didn’t live up to the scale.  I guess it was rather enjoyable and fun, just not terribly recommendable. AMAZON REVIEWS: Amazon reviewers seem to really like this movie. I’m not sure why. Maybe their younger or just easier to please and less elitist than me. I just wanted to be fair let you fine readers know that I seem to be the outlier in not being thrilled with this movie.

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As Cale, Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, Side Effects, G. I. Joe: Retaliation) instantly renews his appeal to women as a dapper DC cop who playfully talks to squirrels, uses political favors to make his daughter smile and has the most likably neutral answers to personal questions. Unfortunately, like any wannabe-John-McClane he has some serious communication issues with his daughter and ex-wife. He applies for a secret service position and during the interview we learn what a screw up he once was, despite his claims to have turned his life around.

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At his daughter’s request, they stick around for a White House tour after his cataclysmically awful, character dissecting job interview which, thankfully, makes him available to play the hero when the terrorists make their move and take over the White House to take the president hostage. The only credible role among the bad guys was played by Jason Clark (Lawless, Zero Dark Thirty)–no shock there. That guy could convincingly play a bag of shit lit on fire without the assistance of make-up or a special effects team.

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Oh, crap.  James Woods is here.  This can only end badly.

Channing Tatum engages in a lot of, ummmm, “adequate” movie violence. Often taking on multiple gunman at once, he appears to be victorious for no more reason than simply because the script “says so”–and not from any means of looking like a convincing tactician or paragon of marksmanship. He does make excellent use of an economy-size toaster as an improvised weapon for about two seconds, but that opportunity is quickly squandered in lieu of run-of-the-mill fast-cut close-up action and we don’t get to enjoy any of the laughs we should have from it.

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Jaime Fox gives us his best Obama impression, which comes off as more annoying than likable.  He was okay.

Not even when the Presidential stretch Escalade Limo is in a demolition derby on the White House lawn and under fire by antiaircraft guns was I impressed; a long action sequence wasted. Even the explosions didn’t get enough screen time to wow us!

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It’s nothing special; certainly not as good as Gerard Butler’s work in Olympus Has Fallen. I’d say the PG-13 rating is about the worst thing that could’ve happened to a project like this. If you want to see some amazing and fun action sequences, I suggest Swordfish (2001), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), Olympus Has Fallen (2013) or Pacific Rim (2013).

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Joey King’s (The Conjuring, Oz the Great and Powerful, The Dark Knight Rises) brave role as child to her handsome on-screen father (Channing Tatum) and the lack of extreme violence, swearing and nudity, make this a perfect action movie for a mother to take her son to see. Just to be clear, that’s my way of saying this action movie sucks. But bros who love big biceps and bigger guns will be disappointed by the lack of blood and swear-rich one-liners.

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Channing Tatum spends a lot of time in a tank top.  No surprise here.

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Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Patriot, Universal Soldier, Stargate) is no stranger to large scale action movies, but I feel that he really missed the mark on intensity and scale here. Halfway through this movie I found myself just waiting for it to end. The action didn’t improve as the story wore on, rather it got less impressive. I could tell that there were some good ideas for action, but either the budget failed Emmerich, or Emmerich’s vision is just not what it used to be.

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This movie really wishes it was Olympus Has Fallen (2013), but turns out to be more like the utter failure A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) in the sense that I wasn’t as impressed as the grandiose scale of the action should have merited.   I guess it was enjoyable and often fun, just not recommendable.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2014 11:33 am

    Good review. It was a fun movie that never really took itself too seriously at all. However, it may have gone on a bit longer than it maybe should have.

  2. April 1, 2014 2:57 pm

    White House Down just wouldn’t end. I remember being bored while watching things blow up. By the time the girl was waving the flag I couldn’t wait for it to be done. It lacked the bombast and violence of Olympus Has Fallen. I never would have predicted a Gerard Butler movie would make more money than a Tatum flick.

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