Down with "White House Down"


I would have loved to entitle this review “What “White House Down” should have learned from “Die Hard””. It’s rare that I want to walk out of the theater. Even when it’s a film that I know is going to be outlandish and implausible. The problem with “White House Down” is that it didn’t steal key components of the films it tried to be like (“Die Hard”, “The Rock”) forgot to make us care about the characters and deliver good performances. Instead we have dialed in performances for a silly screenplay. The only reason I stayed in my seat was because...I paid for my ticket isn’t a great excuse but let’s go with that.


I imagine Jamie Foxx signed on as President Sawyer because...well that’s one role he hasn’t played yet. Jimmi Simpson collected a check in the character part he’s used to playing in his television roles. Outside of Foxx and Simpson, I can’t understand the casting. The film stars Channing Tatum as John Cale, a capitol police officer that wants to be in the secret service to impress his precocious daughter Emily (Joey King). After taking his daughter on a White House tour, Cale becomes the man in the wrong place at the right time as mercenaries take over the White House. 

Honestly this movie feels like they gave it to a film enthusiast who loves Michael Bay, used daddy’s bank roll, and twenty yes men to make a film. The visual effects were poor, and permeated the film like the screenplay's weak structure. From the beginning things are foreshadowed through little Emily and the tour guide’s recitation of facts. Walker (James Woods), the main villain’s (I think) picture of his son in close up after he takes off his American flag pendant is a great way to broadcast his intentions in the first few minutes of the film. The squeaky wheel of a fake janitor’s cart with an ominous tone is an even better way to forecast something bad is about to happen. Things like Cale’s background are told in a super long impromptu secret service interview led by Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Agent Finnerty. Is she an old flame, or a friend? Who knows. Let’s elude to it though. All of these cheesy gimmicks have been done in movies before, but in a more succinct way.

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Let’s not dog the entire film. There were a few comical moments between Foxx and Tatum. The teen girls in the theater screamed when Tatum was first on screen and stripped down to his undershirt and a bullet proof vest. The most heartfelt moment was when little Emily looked into the president’s eyes and said she understood why he would have to let her get shot for the sake of millions. Wait, what? Yes. President Sawyer was willing to let a little girl get shot...and I guess I ran out of kind things to say.

Wait for this movie to come out on DVD for $1 at your local Red Box. Unless you like the walking acting class reject, Channing Tatum...or an occasional laugh from Jamie Foxx as he winks at the camera with his over the top portrayal as the president. The movie isn’t titled down for nothing! 

Rating: D



Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.