Title: White House Down
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: James Vanderbilt
My once a week cinema-going experience, Emmerich’s latest tentpole is a doppelgänger of another White House terrorists-attack actioner (at least plot wise), Antoine Fuqua’s OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (2013), and its North American box office performance has tanked badly ($69,430,120 for WHD Vs. $98,925,640 for OHF so far), which is a rather unlooked-for denouement for the internecine combat, considering from all aspects, the timing and the budget (a summer blockbuster Vs. a spring release), directors’ cachet (Emmerich is a monolith name in the genre) and the cast (Tatum is the hottest leading man in the Hollywood right now and his drawing power has been solidly tested by different genres), it is an impossible battle to lose for WHD, nevertheless the reality has no clemency, but Chinese market could be its last haven, a sizable income is well expected.
Generally speaking the film is a safe bet, the retro-80s packed action, a state-of-the-art SFX, a corny but effective father-saving-daughter stock-in-trade, a topical black president with enjoyable banters, and a last-minute twist of revealing the culprit. Scale-wise, the film cannot beat Emmerich’s 2012 (2009), THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004) or INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996), but it doesn’t prevent it from being a satisfactory pop-corn fest.
Tatum takes after a young John McClane image from DIE HARD franchise, an unbeatable stud defies all the bullets and weaponry, teamed with a righteous and suave president, with no military background, whose fighting-back is more amusing and anticipating than Tatum’s special agent’s combat skill. Child star Joey King is a new-rising starlet, a politics-enthusiastic and premature girl, an underage heroine is equally praiseworthy as her father. The schemes behind the rebels are half-witted, but Jason Clarke and James Woods are the attention-grabbers, typical villain-design, but introducing their own fiber of insanity in their executions. Maggie Gyllenhaal is engaging but hasn’t been warranted any showboating opportunity in a masculine-dominant bullets-bombarding thriller.
I cannot say I’m disappointed by the film and anyhow it is a middle-of-the-road output with wide appeal to the general taste of hoi polloi, one thumb up for its verisimilitude of the precise reproduction of the world-famous locale. As a misfire from Emmerich, one could blame audiences’ aesthetic fatigue of the same milieu but a revive of old-fashioned action hero fails to reconnect with the superhero-fed generation and it is something beyond Tatum and Emmerich’s capabilities.