For a quarter of a century, filmmakers have been trying to remake “Die Hard.”
“White House Down” is director Roland Emmerich’s explosion-filled attempt, and not surprisingly, it falls well short.
There is certainly a great deal of entertainment value in watching Channing Tatum mow down bad guys in the First Family’s living room, but in the end, “White House Down” is too ludicrous and implausible to actually recommend.
A likable Tatum takes the hero role as John Cale, a former soldier now working as security for the dour Speaker of the House (Richard Jenkins) and hoping to earn a Secret Service gig.
While he’s at the White House with his precocious daughter Emily (Joey King), however, a host of heavily armed baddies blow up part of the building, mow down the Secret Service and try to nab the president. Only one man can stop them from completing … whatever their dastardly plot is.
Jamie Foxx plays President Sawyer, an Obama-like figure whose bold peace plan for the Middle East may be at the root of this takeover. When the going gets tough, however, Foxx isn’t above grabbing a gun or a rocket launcher and joining in the mayhem.
Foxx and Tatum have a pretty good rapport, and the film itself has a strong cast that includes a nicely surly James Woods, tough guy Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and an out-of-place Maggie Gyllenhaal.
“White House Down,” though, simply tries to cram in too many cliches and plot twists among the many shootouts and explosions.
The film is campy, deliberately so at times. You can almost see Emmerich winking. Other times, though, the humor seems completely unintentional.
The improbabilities and silliness start to add up (I think I said, “Oh, come on” out loud in the theater at least twice) after a while, however, and the eight-minute countdown that makes for the film’s climax seems to last about 30 minutes.
“White House Down” isn’t necessarily a bad popcorn flick for the summer. It’s just very hard to call it “good.”
Rental Recommendation: Harrison Ford’s president in “Air Force One” would crush Jamie Foxx. Grade: B+
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White House Down
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, James Woods
Rated: PG-13 (for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image)
Running time: 131 minutes