Stunt Granny Movie Review: White House Down

la-et-mn-white-house-down-channing-tatum-theat-001Should you see White House Down?  Should you invest 2 hours and 8-12 bucks towards this film?  Are you on the fence because you already saw Olympus Has Fallen?  Well, you’ve come to the right place.  Here is a quick review/questionnaire which will help you determine to pass or go.

Channing Tatum plays a divorced DC policeman and former Army veteran looking to impress his precocious (aka obnoxious) daughter by attempting to join the secret service.  On that same day, a group of disgruntled ex-civil servants, crazy rednecks, and an obnoxious hacker joins forces to storm the White House to achieve…something.  It involves a Middle East peace plan, defense companies and corporations looking to fund continued conflict, revenge on previous…….look, it’s 2 hours of Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx running around blowing stuff up and cracking jokes.

So, does that sound like they type of movie you want to see?  Not sure yet?  Ok, time to dig deeper…

Are you a fan of Roland Emmerich?  He’s a director who seems to take a perverse enjoyment in destroying American landmarks.  Unlike Al-Qaeda, he tends to operate in very broad strokes, employing one-dimensional characters, loud noises, and humor stolen from the outtakes of Michael Bay movies.  Yet like caramel popcorn and midget fights, he can be enjoyable, in a perverse, slightly morbid fashion.  Independence Day, Godzilla, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 B.C….when your most subtle film is The Patriot (aka Mel Gibson going William Wallace on the British), then you tend to have a certain reputation.  If you’re a fan of those movies, then you will find enjoyment in this film.

Are you a fan of Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx?   Does the thought of watching Channing doing his best Die Hard impersonation and Jamie answering the question of how Barack Obama would act if he went to a historically black college tickle your fancy? This is 2 hours of racial buddy cop wrapped around an overwrought sandwich of national and global stakes.  Luckily, they possess a modicum of chemistry, and provide the best parts of the film; it slows and drags when they separate.  However, I’m also aware that you’ve seen the trailers, so ask yourself this – do you get a chuckle out of Jamie Foxx telling a dead terrorist to get their hands off his Michael Jordans?  That’s the type of humor you will get.

Are you a fan of watching competent actors such as Maggie Gyllenhall, Jason Clarke, James Woods, Richard Jenkins and Lance Reddick slumming it in supporting roles far beneath them? Similar to his American counterpart Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich tends to fill his movies with credible thespians to boost the scenery of his pedestrian scripts.  Unlike Bay, he tends to keep them on a more restrained leash.  The positives are a lack of annoying scene chewery – think John Turturro and John Malkovich in Transformers.  The disadvantages are neutered performances, particularly from the villains.  Emmercih tries to mix many ingredients to keep the suspense flowing, but it ends up turning into a simple case of angry white guys mad at the president.  Needless to say, this isn’t the type of movie you go to see to appreciate supporting actors.

I saw Olympus Has Fallen, so why should I see this…it’s the same movie.  Many people have probably had this thought in their head, with good reason.  But there are significant differences.  Olympus has fallen was a serious action movie with a serious protagonist, a serious villain, and slightly believable action.  You aren’t getting goofy comedy from the director of Training Day, Brooklyn’s Finest and King Arthur, because Antoine Fuqua doesn’t play that nonsense.  And Gerard Butler was in serious ass-kicking mode with just enough humor to add likeability to his character.  White House Down is a living cartoon, plain and simple.  It’s an action-comedy which has no intention of playing things straight.  And Channing Tatum does many things well but playing a believable death machine isn’t really one of them.  So the choice is between watching a serious one man show versus a comedy two man show.  I watched both, and enjoyed them in different ways, but I would give the edge to Olympus Has Fallen.

Here is the most important question…are you a fan of Con Air? Yes, Con Air, the patron saint of the so ridiculous, it’s entertaining action movie?  I hope so, because this movie is extremely, enormously, amazingly ridiculous.  Not in the Die Hard way, and not even in the Fast & Furious way (which is saying a lot)…no, this is the type of movie where Grand Theft Auto logic applies throughout the entire film.  There is a chase scene involving a limo being chased around the white house lawn and making donuts around the tennis court.  For approximately 10 minutes. 10 looooong minutes.  Did I laugh at the action? – of course I did.  Did I feel guilty about enjoying it? – damn right.  But then again, I chuckle every time Nicholas Cage tells a redneck convict to put down a stuffed rabbit with an atrocious southern accent, so maybe I’m not the best judge for this type of movie.  Needless to say, it makes no sense, it knows it makes no sense, and it doesn’t even try to make any sense.  So proceed with caution.

So hopefully I convinced you to either give it a try or a pass.  If you decide to go, don’t blame me if you start cursing at the screen…I warned you.  And keep your hands off my Jordans! -Shahid

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