Friday, May 9, 2014

DVD of the Week: White House Down

So last year was a year in which Hollywood released not one, but two movies in which terrorists invaded the White House. I mean, what are the chances? After the first time you'd think they'd increase the security! This seems to happen more than simple co-incidence would allow, and it's always fun to compare the two films, especially when they're as similar as the disappointing Olympus Has Fallen and this weeks film, White House Down. Both are basically Die Hard, but in the White House, both are dumb as posts, and both probably think the Bechtel Test is something that you run on your phone line if your internet connection gets slow.

White House Down at least stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, so on the face of it you have a pair of leads that know how to hold this sort of movie works, and what sort of tone is appropriate. It also has a cute kid, a token woman decision maker, James Woods and a lot of cannon fodder, and if that sounds flippant its already a better line up than it's counterpart. Critically, however, White House Down knows exactly how dumb it is, and just sort of looks out at you demanding to be liked. If it is a dog, it's a Labrador of a movie.

I like Labradors.

The story, for what it is, goes something like this - Tatum works security for a Congressional Politician whose exact role I never quite caught, but wants to work for The President, so he can impress his daughter, I guess? He manages to get an interview which he manages to combine with a day out with said daughter to the White House, but has chosen day for James Woods to finally go over the edge and start blowing stuff because that's how you make America Stronger. Apparently. So having lifted his motivation largely from The Rock he is left with the White House under his control with only the loose cannon, wrong man in the right place Tatum, teamed up with Foxx as a thinly altered Barack Obama to save the day. Boom, explosions.

Its hard to keep referring to the "other White House" film, but what really undid Olympus Has Fallen was its sense that it was taking itself a little too seriously. Hell, it made a lot more money so it must have done something right, but for me it was po-faced and self-important when clearly it was extremely dumb and full of plot holes. These flaws can also be aimed at White House Down but it's a film at ease with its own lack of smarts, and that means it's a lot of fun to watch. The action is varied and interestingly staged, and there is a lot of humour sprinkled around the place to keep it breezy. It's also worth mentioning that it's whole cast is basically slumming it; they're all capable of much better than this, although the self-awareness spreads to their performances.

But that's about it for White House Down, a movie that is dumb fun if you don't think too hard, and the fact that it knows it just about absolves it of its many sins. Not one to go out of your way for, not something you need to avoid, either.