Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Just like way back in 1998 when we got 'Deep Impact' and 'Armageddon' released almost back to back, now we get two movies detailing the taking of the White House back to back with 'Olympus has Fallen' released a couple months back, and 'White House Down' released just last week, at least of this writing.  Back in '98, one movie was better than other, though it's certainly debatable, but I'm a Deep Impact guy.  In 2013, one movie was better than other, and while this is also debatable, I'm an 'Olympus has Fallen' guy. 

John Cale (Channing Tatum) has two dreams in life.  To be a Secret Service Agent and to stop being a deadbeat dad to his hateful eleven year old daughter Emily (Joey King).  Today John is about to take a positive step in both of those directions as he has an interview to be this agent, and he has gotten his daughter, a political junkie, passes for the White House Tour.  The tour went very well for the little girl as she even got President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) to do a quick blurb for her video blog, but the interview… not so good.  It seems Cale's ex-girlfriend Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is like the deputy secretary of the Secret Service in charge of employment or something.  What are the chances?  And she rejects Cale's application, basically because he can never finish anything.

Also at the White House at this time is one Mr. Stenz (Jason Clarke) and he is not a good dude.  After his people put a bomb in the middle of the White House atrium, like that's actually possible, and blows up a good section of the building, after his men shoot every security guard and lousy Secret Service agent, Mr. Stenz puts a bullet in the forehead of a portrait of George Washington.  Clearly this cat hates freedom.
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So the White House is under siege, there is a traitor way up high making things happen for these evil people, John is separated from his hateful daughter who was in the bathroom doing something or another and the President is in grave danger.   Thus while John might not be slated to be a Secret Service Agent at the moment, he is still an unqualified, rock solid, devastatingly awesome badass.  He has the president safe behind his automatic weapon, but his baby girl is still missing.  Where is she?  Taking pictures of the bad guys and putting them on the Internet.  That makes Mr. Stenz very unhappy.  The good thing is that Mr. Stenz doesn't know that Emily is the daughter of the guy laying waste to his highly trained team of completely incompetent mercenaries.  At least not yet. 

What do these bad guys want?  Some want money, some want fame, some want a nuclear holocaust… there's a disconnect there.  What they're gonna get, however, is Death by Former Male Model.  That's what the future holds for these clowns. 

As a review of 'White House Down', we can say that this is reasonably competent, popcorn munching, Saturday afternoon type fare that is debilitatingly stupid for the most part and goes on about twenty minutes too long.  But this was directed by Roland Emmerich who is notorious for making overly long, really stupid movies.  '2012', '10,000 B.C.', 'Godzilla', 'The Day After Tomorrow'… we would throw 'Independence Day' on that pile but that movie was deliciously stupid as opposed to debilitatingly stupid so we will leave it off the list.  Most of the things that happen in this movie are incomprehensibly impossible, the action is plentiful and virtually non-stop, Channing Tatum was serviceable as hero, Jamie Foxx made for a far better Django than a liberal president, and we have never enjoyed watching hateful children on screen.  But it was still a solid time waster.

But why does this particular movie watcher prefer the equally stupid, arguably even more stupid 'Olympus has Fallen' over 'White House Down'?  The movies are similar, both have a countdown to triple zero near the end, both have precocious kids that need saving, both have Presidents that are fairly brain dead, but there are a number of reasons for our preference which we will briefly discuss. 

R-rating vs. PG-13 rating.  While I do believe more people got murderized in 'White House', it was largely bloodless where 'Olympus' reveled in its bloody violence.

Gerard Butler vs. Channing Tatum.  Believe me, Channing has come a looooong way from the early days of his career, and the dude is one hell of athlete.  But this is King Leonidus we're talking about over here.  Channing does RomCom better than Gerard, but Gerard does hardcore action just about as good as anyone ever.

Antoine Fuqua vs. Roland Emmerich.  We're talking the guy that made Training Day vs. the guy that made Godzilla.  Guess which one I want making my hardcore action movie?

Unintended comedy vs. designed comedy.  I have never laughed so hard at a serious movie than I did while watching 'Olympus has Fallen'.  That stuff was funny!  White House Down on the other hand had legitimate comedy in it.  Not that it didn't work, but unintended comedy is almost always funnier. 

Morgan Freeman vs. Richard Jenkins.  Both Speakers of the House, both eventually have to run the country.  Richard Jenkins is awesome but Morgan Freeman put us at ease because he has experience running countries that have cinematically gone all to hell.

Dylan McDermott vs. James Woods.  Both rogue Secret Service agents…  Okay. .. White House Down wins this one all day long.

Also, there were no clunky politics or burdensome family drama in Olympus, just folks getting stabbed in the brain and it was fifteen minutes shorter.  This is why we here cast our ballot for 'Olympus has Fallen' but 'White House Down' still had its fine stupid points to work with.

Lisa's Take:

While I can’t say where I come down on the White House Down versus Olympus has Fallen, I did enjoy white house down. I may get around to watching Olympus, I may not. Chris points out that Emily is a pretty hateful child- so hateful, she calls her dad John. What 11 year old hasn’t wanted to show up their parent, especially a child of divorce?  I don’t condone her behavior towards her dad, but one can see how and why Emily acts that way she does. This is after all an Independence Day like movie, and no one is trying to over think anything. Nor should any audience try and over analyze the motives- Emily and her dad have issues, at least he’s trying to be better. Essentially the whole movie is John proving to himself, Emily, and ex girlfriend Carol Finnerty that he isn’t the flaky loser he’s always been. Underneath the flaky loser, is one bad ass hero.  Surprisingly Jamie Fox doesn’t really do much to protect himself, not like Air Force One style, leaving more room for Channing heroics. Really, it is quite impressive that Channing is a one man butt kicking army- outnumbered, out gunned, and out flanked, he keeps running. I think I have more issue with Channing having an 11 year old daughter, seems like that would cramp his style. Just sayin. And White House Down did teach us a few things

1. When being held hostage, and you secretly video your captors, don’t get caught posting the videos.

2. When escaping by car, circling isn’t the best evasive maneuvers.

3. When being attacked, grab what you can to protect and defect yourself, and in the White House certainly there were vests. Wear bullet proof vests, just in case.

4. News media will be around with plenty of transportation and equipment, use this to your advantage. And finally –

5. Roland Emmerich really likes blowing up the White House, so much so he self references that, and probably should get on some watch list.

Once is interesting, twice is alarming, now three times Roland? We have an unhealthy trend.

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