Crazy action in White House Down
WHITE HOUSE DOWN (PG13)
THERE are a few things one can expect from a Roland Emmerich film: Elaborate action sequences, cheesy dialogue and (sometimes unintentional) humour.
In this vein, White House Down delivers on all fronts. However, it falls short when it comes to plot lucidity and credible acting.
It is the second of two films this year that have explored an attack on the White House, the first being Olympus Has Fallen, directed by Antoine Fuqua.
White House Down is about police officer John Cale (Channing Tatum) who, while on a job interview with Secret Service agent Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal) to join the Secret Service detail for United States President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx), ends up protecting the President when incendiaries strike the White House.
Cale's daughter, Emily (Joey King), is an aficionado of all things presidential and ends up as a hostage in the White House.
The film attempts to be many things but, mostly, it becomes a failed hybrid of action and humour, with an undercooked exploration of Cale's relationship with his daughter.
White House Down tries to replicate the formula that worked so well for Emmerich's 1996 directorial effort, Independence Day, where he succeeded in using action, humour and relationships in appropriate measure. The acting by an ensemble led by Will Smith lent credence to the plot about invading aliens.
However, Independence Day succeeded because we knew nothing about the villains (aliens). They remained an enigmatic threat.
Here, the villains, a skilled militant group led by Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke), have an under-explored motive. Just being a visible threat, in that sense, does the film no favours.
While the ease with which they invade the White House is explained early on, it is still perplexing how all the security forces protecting the President could be killed so easily.
Still, the action sequences, while unoriginal, are spectacular. Viewers have come to expect this from Emmerich, who is something of a wunderkind when it comes to large-scale action sequences. He deftly handles the smaller-scale sequences as well - most notably, an operations sequence that takes place within the White House.
The acting is what makes this film the unintentional comedy that it is. Tatum, also its executive producer, scrapes through with his wooden take on a father trying to find his daughter.
Foxx, on the other hand, earns laughs with his semi-parody of a president who, at one point, wears awesome sneakers and whose seriousness is laughable.
The numerous plot holes in the film weaken the realism. Moreover, the twist ending that attempts to elevate the film into a whodunnit seems unnecessary.
But it's the acting that earns some laughs.