Film Review: White House Down


Roland Emmerich’s tongue-in-cheek blockbuster is throughly entertaining. White House Down works because of the humour, which cannot be anything but intentional.

John Cale dreams of working for the Secret Service, protecting the President. On the day of his interview, he decides to take his daughter along so that she can go on a tour of the White House. Unbeknownst to Cale, an armed group are ready to overtake 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue…

After the perplexing Anonymous, director Roland Emmerich returns to the kind of film which made his name. Like his last film, there is plenty to laugh at in White House Down. However this time the humour is intentional.

White House Down follows the formula of an action blockbuster. The archetypal characters are present here. Every twist seems to be signposted early. When the reveal comes, it is delivered with a straight face which adds to the overall humour.

The situations that Emmerich’s film showcases are so absurd that it is difficult not too laugh. White House Down plays these up. The film has the requisite action and big set pieces required for this kind of blockbuster. This aspect is executed well.

Despite the outlandishness of some of the action and plot twists, White House Down feels very contemporary in its representation of the political. The overall motivation behind the coup is boiled down to its basics. The fetishisation of President Obama, depicted here from Jamie Foxx’s President Sawyer, sadly does not match the ideological reality.

Performances in White House Down are decent overall. Channing Tatum is a good fit for John Cale. The character is a cross between an experienced soldier and a reluctant hero, and Tatum plays this well. Jamie Foxx is well cast as President Sawyer, whilst Joey King offers a good performance as young Emily.

White House Down is often silly, but always entertaining. A fun popcorn flick.