Like buses, you often wait for a film to come along only to have two arrive at the same time. This is certainly the case for the latest Roland Emmerich film White House Down, which follows hot on the heels of the superior-named Olympus Has Fallen about a White House siege.
Ex-military man Kale (Channing Tatum) goes to the White House for an interview for the secret service but fails. While on a tour, the Head of the secret service Walker (James Woods) implements a plot to attack the building, forcing Kale into a position to rescue his daughter and try and protect President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx).
No stranger to blowing up the White House, Emmerich brings his own unique brand of mindless action sensibilities and like Independence Day the strength of the film relies on the chemistry of the two leads, with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx proving able replacements for Will Smith and Bill Pullman. In Tatum the film has one of the rising stars of Hollywood, and he once again shows his raw charisma and surprising comic timing while doing his best impression of John McClane from Die Hard. Even as the hot seat of Western imperialist democracy is in danger of being totally destroyed, the two men still have time to crack wise and discuss the difficulties of being a father in our modern world. It’s quite sweet really, not to mention incredibly silly.
Just because White House Down is silly, does not mean that it is not fun. From the standard explosions and gun-play, there are hilarious one-shot scenes like the sight of the President of the United States firing a rocket out of a moving car on the National news. This is the kind of film that you can watch in the comfort of your own home and sneak off to make some food for 10 minutes and come back to discover nothing has actually happened.
The main issue is therefore that it more than outstays its welcome. At over two hours, White House Down of a corpulent, excessive action film that provides nothing truly original to the genre and after the ridiculous three-act finale you find yourself pleased when the final credits roll. But with the natural chemistry of the leads holding it together and a suitably villainous James Woods doing his best James Woods impression, it just about holds your attention and is the better than Olympus Has Fallen, even if the title isn’t.