Yes. If all you’re looking for a quick answer to whether this movie is good or not, the answer is a resounding Yes. You’ve probably already watched the similarly-themed Olympus Has Fallen starring Gerard Butler and thought you had your fill of White House-related disaster action. You would be mistaken. Here’s why.
White House Down is the story of John Cale (Channing Tatum), a Capitol policeman who is working hard to make up for the mistakes he unwittingly made in his youth. He was just young and confused, but his actions led to an estranged marriage, a daughter who is upset with him and on the day we first meet him, a job interview that goes nowhere because on paper he comes off as undependable and irresponsible. Even though Cale’s hopes of joining the Secret Service are swiftly shattered, he is committed to making things up to his daughter Emily (Joey King), an 11-year-old with an obsession for history and politics. He secures passes for a tour of the White House, she is thrilled, and it looks like at least one thing will go right for him that day. A paramilitary group planning to destroy the White House has a different idea.
So what’s the big deal about this fairly conventional plot? The execution – it hits all the right spots and then some. When you watch a blockbuster you want a sense of scale, you want things to really go boom, you want the bad guys to be badass, you want the good guys to kick ass and White House Down does all of that with full commitment. The cast really brings it together – Jamie Foxx as President James Sawyer is the kind of hero a leader of a nation should be; the head bad guy, Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) is pure tightly coiled energy and proves yet again that whether he’s playing a good guy or a villain, no one strides quite like he can; also a special mention for Kevin Rankin, the more flamboyant of the villains, for playing an unhinged muscular lunatic-with-a-gun so well, given that he shot to recognition playing a wheelchair-bound young man in Friday Night Lights – the TV series. Also turning up her game is Maggie Gyllenhaal as Special Agent Carol Finnerty. Young actress Joey King who plays the daughter Emily is capable, but she was the weakest link for me. If you like overly precocious, smart-mouthed children you might find her amusing. Which brings us to her on-screen dad Channing Tatum. It’s pretty clear that people fall into two camps when it comes to the 33-year-old who has quickly become one of the most bankable actors today. People either enjoy his easy, earnest air and very fluid moves (whether he’s dancing or beating people up) or they think he’s a block of wood that can’t act. I fall into the first category. And hey, being a woman has nothing to do with it, I know some guys that think he’s cool too. He makes John Cale very likable and believable. All that running, climbing and many many instances of sliding away to safety against a shower of bullets… Tatum does it all and does it well. I mean, when he ditches his character’s work outfit, a suit and tie, and emerges in what is now a very familiar Tatum outfit – a white vest – I almost cheered. Good job filmmakers.
White House Down is very satisfactory. You can complain about it being predictable, about some of the plot points being impossible in the real world, but is gritty reality and socially important stories what you come to watch a blockbuster for? Say what you will about blockbusters but when they do it right there is a rhythm to it, a complete lack of rough edges and sticking points that make them a smooth ride and fun to watch. That is all they need to deliver on and White House Down does it very very well.
Final Analysis: White House Down is a very satisfactory things-go-boom movie.
My Advice: If entertainment is what you’re looking for, go check it out for sure.