White House Down

Jun 27, 2013

White House Down Grade: B Director: Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) Screenplay: James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man) Cast: Channing Tatum (Magic Mike), Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 131 min. by John DeSando You can’t have much more fun this summer than White House Down. Although the director is Roland Emmerich of Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012, it’s not just famous buildings going down, but the action genre takes a parodic turn with quips, one-liners, and subtle comic situations that signal everyone is having fun. As with Olympus Has Fallen earlier this year, the president is in trouble needing a hero who was Gerard Butler and now Channing Tatum. Tatum as Cale, a war hero, DC cop who wants to do Secret Service, wins my favorite status because he has the better lines along with the capably comedic companionship of Jamie Foxx as president. Their repartee is second only this summer to the banter in Much Ado About Nothing, and W. Shakespeare wrote that comedy. White House Down has tongue firmly in cheek as it rolls out all the presidential thriller tropes including the vulnerable child and corrupt high-level politicians. That the “military industrial complex” is one of the bad guys gives an idea how this film can’t take anyone seriously. (The North Koreans in Olympus were satisfactory villains). Heck, even a Don Cheadle lookalike general has a prominent role (Remember him as Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes in Iron Man 2?). Now that’s having fun with the genre. The genius of a film like this is to keep you enjoying its mastery of suspense and computer graphics while knowing it’s making fun of itself as it baldly sets up improbable good fortune for the heroes and occasionally for the bad guys, some of whom have a comedic line or two. If you can stand the absurdities and don’t have a problem with a few jokes that may make fun of beloved action films, then see this summer tent pole and confirm that movies don’t have to be serious or intellectual to be enjoyed. John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at Contact him at