White House Down | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

White House Down

Another dumb White House-invasion thriller at least has some laughs


For the second time in three months — at least on the big screen — the White House is under attack. Last time it was the North Koreans in Olympus Has Fallen; in Roland Emmerich's actioner-with-laughs, it's a group of rogue Beltway insiders. (See if you can guess who in the first five minutes!)

Like Olympus, the entire plot relies on the White House, with all its attendant security and infrastructure, and our military being utterly unprepared for when a couple of guys with guns stroll in and take over. And similarly, it's too bad that the one guy the White House invaders don't kill is the one ass-kicker who's gonna bring them down.

Standing in for all outraged and heroic Americans with buff arms is Cale (Channing Tatum), a wannabe Secret Service agent who is casually touring the White House with his kid, whose nerd-hobby is knowing everything about the White House, when shit goes down. Cale rescues President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx), and before you can say "peace talks with Iran," we got us a buddy comedy. (Sawyer is an egghead peacenik, but he gets his rage up when some bad guy makes a grab for his Jordans. Seriously.)

Despite the grave subject matter, most of this film is played for laughs, at least at the White House; the Capitol is blown up early on, but who cares about Congress, right? I don't know what these back-to-back movies say about our national psyche and our need to vicariously play out scenarios where the majority of our leaders get wiped out, our much-lauded security state proves ineffectual and only some wisecracking dude can right the ship of state. But it's probably something dark and disturbing. Still, why think about it when you can watch President Jamie Foxx shoot an RPG from the presidential limo while careening around the White House lawn?

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