‘White House Down’: Jamie Foxx, Channing Tatum in search of homeland security
Any movie that introduces its star in conversation with a squirrel would have to be going for comedy, you’d think. But with Roland Emmerich, it’s hard to be sure. The director has toyed with laughter before — with his global-warming hoot-fest, “The Day After Tomorrow,” his Stone Age lunk-athon, “10,000 BC,” and his straight-faced Mayan apocalypse workout, “2012.” But with his new movie, “White House Down,” Emmerich appears to be tossing all restraint aside in order to stake his claim as a laugh master of the top rank. Either that or he has delivered one of his silliest pictures to date.
Like the Gerard Butler film “Olympus Has Fallen,” which was released just three months ago, “White House Down” tells the story of a veteran who is frustrated in his attempt to join the security detail of the president of the United States, a gang of terrorists who invade the White House with the greatest of ease, a plot to take control of every nuclear missile in the U.S. arsenal, and, for similar good measure, a dastardly American traitor and a cute little kid in peril. This time around, the veteran, a Marine named Cale, is played by Channing Tatum, who, if it need be said, is a more appealing actor than Butler. And the president Cale seeks to safeguard — a Barack Obama duplicate, named Sawyer — is played by Jamie Foxx, who brings real style and energy to the proceedings.
After the opening squirrel interaction, which really is rather odd, we see that Cale is currently employed in guarding the body of the speaker of the House (Richard Jenkins). Then we see him picking up his estranged 8-year-old daughter, Emily (Joey King), from his ex-wife (Rachelle Lefevre) and, curiously, taking the girl along to the White House to wait while he makes his latest bid to move up into presidential security. Rebuffed after an interview with Secret Service gatekeeper Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Cale glumly accedes to Emily’s request to join a White House tour group. The girl is frighteningly passionate about all things D.C., and she’s an uncorkable fount of Capitol factoids — historical highlights, structural dimensions — which allows her to unload exposition on us at considerable length. This is a movie in no real rush to get going.
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