White House Down

whdThis film is exactly what you want a splashy summer picture to be. It’s exciting and funny and tense and has good actors doing crazy things for your enjoyment. It’s everything Olympus Has Fallen wasn’t.

Channing Tatum is a DC cop who’s trying to get into the Secret Service, but his personal history is too checkered for him to get any traction there. Still, he snags an interview, and takes his politically-obsessed daughter (Joey King) along to try to mend some fences with her. Then, chaos!

What’s interesting is how this film is a little more leisurely about getting the action started than most of the last couple of decades. I don’t think there was a single explosion or bullet fired for about thirty minutes. (They make up for that. Don’t worry.) There are plenty of hints of menace, but the film takes its time introducing the characters and setting up the relationships. Jamie Foxx is the President, who has recently initiated a complete pullout of all troops from the Middle East, in an attempt to bring peace through humanitarian efforts. Maggie Gyllenhaal is one of the senior Secret Service agents, under the head of the Service, James Woods.

Also, there are a bunch of crazy bad guys. This is where the film goes a little off the rails. These characters are mostly so over the top, you can’t really buy them as people, merely as villains. Their motivations and actions are all believable enough, it’s just the details of their performances that are somewhat distracting. But this wasn’t enough to really hurt the movie, I don’t think.

This is all pretty standard Die Hard rip-off fare. The main goon has a grudge against our plucky hero because of an early bad guy death. The plucky hero’s pluckier daughter becomes a pawn in a tense showdown. The authorities outside the White House are tone deaf to our hero’s pleas. But there’s a reason these kinds of films get made: they work. And this one definitely works. I had a blast.

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