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
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
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
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.
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
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.