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White House Down - Review

White House Down

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THE lack of creativity coming out of the Hollywood mainstream right now is best summed up by all that’s wrong about White House Down.

First off, it’s the third film this year to trade on the Die Hard formula (after A Good Day To Die Hard and Olympus Has Fallen) and the second to be set in the White House.

Secondly, it’s dumb (sometimes knowingly so) and desperate to keep things teen friendly. And thirdly, it squanders a very good cast.

To make matters even more disappointing, it also comes from Roland Emmerich, a director who previously has good form for summer spectacle (thanks to films like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow).

The plot is, as you’d expect, familiar. Capitol policeman Cale (Channing Tatum) is at the White House to try and land a job with the Secret Service and has also taken his young daughter along in a bid to impress her.

But while there, terrorists take over the building, father and daughter become separated and it’s left to Cale to save the day by both saving the life of the President (Jamie Foxx) and rescuing his little girl.

Pitted against him are a heavily armed group of mercernaries with a grudge against the US, led by James Woods for patriot and including Jason Clarke.

Admittedly, Emmerich’s film does know it’s OTT for most of the time and, accordingly, plays many of its scenes for laughs (especially in the comic interplay between Tatum and Foxx). But this only negates any tension the film might have had (and which was one of the defining characteristics of the original Die Hard).

It also makes any attempts to touch upon hot button issues concerning American foreign policy a little awkward, especially once the film labours in some of its more jingoistic elements (as evidenced by a painfully moronic tour guide, played by the irritating Nicolas Wright).

And while Emmerich does display his customary relish for destroying landmark American monuments, the action begins big and just keeps getting bigger and more absurd, while keeping the violence toned down. There’s no meaning to anything, or sense of loss.

Any characters that boasted any interest, meanwhile, are lost in the mayhem – with everyone from Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, Richard Jenkins, Jason Clarke and James Woods short-changed in some way.

At over two hours, the mindless excess gets harder and harder to forgive, especially once you realise that this is the third Die Hard misfire you may have sat through this year. This one, in particular, should have been a great deal better.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 131mins
UK Release Date: September 13, 2013