Wednesday, July 3, 2013

White House Down

Review by James Colt Harrison

Summer is when all the studios inundate us with big, overblown mega-explosion movies, and 2013 is no different. In fact, there are probably more blockbusters coming our way this year than any others of recent vintage.

Hot off the blocks is the Channing Tatum-Jamie Foxx buddy movie of gargantuan proportions, White House Down. Both stars have had big hits in the past year, Tatum with his striptease spectacular Magic Mike and Foxx with his Oscar®-nominated Django Unchained.

Channing plays a handsome Washington, D.C. cop who is assigned to protect Speaker of the House Richard Jenkins. Channing, of course, has neglected his own daughter (Joey King) because of his governmental duties, and is trying to make it up to her. He takes her on a tour of the White House. Little did he know trouble would come their way. He probably didn’t read the entire script.

President James Sawyer (Foxx) is in hot water internationally because of his desire to move all U.S. troops out of the Middle East and propose a peace treaty. Sound familiar? In case you weren’t hit over the head upon entering the theater, Foxx also does a sly imitation of the person currently sitting in the Oval Office. Any guesses? Some of the film is played for laughs to relieve the seriousness of the overall plot. Director Roland Emmerich made sure Channing and Foxx would meet and become buddies in their quest to save the President in this Columbia Pictures release.

In a highly unlikely scenario, Channing becomes the protector of the President just-like-that! In reality, it must take years of training. There is a reason for the speediness of the promotion. There is a paramilitary plot against the White House and the President. The no-good bums blew up the Capitol building in a stunning display of pyrotechnics and CGI wizardry. In the meantime, mercenaries led by the evil Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke) kill off all the Secret Service and hold everybody else as hostages. Who is in charge of all this treason?

There certainly is lots of action and plenty of chances for Channing to take off his shirt and show his muscles. After all, he’s a star and has to earn his insane salary. Fortunately for him, he is young and strapping and looks good in these sorts of roles. And his fans lap it up.

James Woods comes in for an extended character part as the retiring Head of he Presidential Detail. He as been around for years, knows everybody, and acts in the efficient manner you would expect of him.  Woods is a take-charge guy, and you would not want to cross him. He’s a marvelous actor, either as a good guy or bad, and he can play both with equal aplomb. He does so here.

If you like action pictures, then this one is for you. It starts off the summer season with several bangs. With Garcel Beauvais as The First Lady, Maggie Gyllenhaal as a Secret Service officer, Nicolas Wright as a funny tour guide, Jimmi Simpson as a soul-free computer hacker, and Michael Murphy as the Vice President.

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