Sony // 2013 // 131 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 5th, 2013
The second of the summer's two White House-centric action movies took a slightly different approach than Gerard Butler's Olympus Has Fallen. Can disaster maestro Roland Emmerich ensure his Oval opus comes out on top?
John Cale (Channing Tatum, The Eagle) is a police officer yearning to score a post as a Secret Service agent. Now, however, his biggest priority is to be a cool dad to his estranged daughter, which he makes some progress in by securing White House tour tickets. Unfortunately he picked the one day when a paramilitary outfit decides to lay siege to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, forcing him to remove his shirt and start wasting bad guys.
President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained) is also caught in the crossfire and he holds the key to the terrorists' demands. He's also got a pair of Air Jordans, and merrily dispenses with his outspoken pacifism to waste fools.
With this we are now officially 0-2 for White House action movies that don't poop all over your intelligence. Olympus Has Fallen is super dumb and so is White House Down, but I will give a tip of the hat to the latter for not being as self-serious as the former. It's also a let less memorable for its action beats and the PG-13 rating keeps things too sanitized for my taste.
Hmmm. Let's chart this mofo up...
White House Down vs. Olympus Has Fallen: One Dumb-ass White House Action Movie to Rule Them All!
WHD: Off-duty copy, wannabe Secret Service agent, deadbeat dad.
OHF: Disgraced Secret Service agent, President's BFF, joyous torturer.
EDGE: I think Channing Tatum can be cool, but he was not used to full effect here. Gerard Butler got way more dope stuff to do and was far more intimately involved in the violent offing of bad guys, so he gets the nod.
WHD: Right-wing paramilitary group led by "patriots"
OHF: North Korean terrorists
EDGE: Slam dunk for the Norks. I'm about done with the patriots monologue from mass murderers in these movies. Plus, the North Koreans at least hate us. Bi-partisan antagonism!
WHD: James Sawyer, wiseass.
OHF: Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhardt, Battle: Los Angeles), totally incompetent and utterly reckless.
EDGE: Sawyer shines in the comedic moments, able to crack wise while dodging RPGs. His foreign policy is infantile, but anyone who can make an Air Jordan joke while fighting for his life is worthy of your support in November.
WHD: Nuking the Mid-East because...
OHF: Nuking America because...
EDGE: Neither scheme makes a lick of sense, showing me that either a) Hollywood hasn't the faintest idea how things really work in the Department of Defense or b) nuclear launch codes really are super simple to crack and we're all boned.
WHD: Lots of PG-13 gunfire, a limo chase on the White House lawn, and some exploding helicopters.
OHF: Lots of R-rated gunfire, an open siege on the White House lawn, and some exploding helicopters.
EDGE: Weirdly, neither film has a memorable, stand-out sequence, so, advantage to Olympus's arterial blood spray.
WHD: Some decent chemistry between Foxx and Tatum as well as jokes from the bad guys.
OHF: None save for a wildly inappropriate barb at the end, amidst flaming rubble and corpses.
EDGE: Rarely has a roid-raging blow-'em-up been as up its own tailpipe as Olympus Has Fallen. Emmerich, on the other hand, knows he's trafficking in gonzo entertainment and isn't afraid to inject fun into the proceedings. Point, Roland.
Some quick back of the envelope math reveals that...uh, wait a second...yes, yes, both movies are moronic. It will come down to a matter of a taste: if you want more of a goofball summer experience, White House Down is for you. More of a hard-R bloodbath? Olympus.
Well-stocked Blu-ray from Sony: the 2.40:1/1080p transfer is lights out, a clean, detailed production that looks great during the frantic action scenes or the dimly lit melodrama going down in the bunker. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio pumps out the shenanigans with sizzle. Extras include a gag reel and 13 (!) mini-featurettes that may have been better served edited together into one robust making-of documenetary; interview footage is re-used for different segments. Still, it's an impressively long laundry list, with bits on the cast, the action, the director, the script, the limo chase, the weaponry, the visual effects and the set design.
No surprise that the villainy all comes in from the right side of the aisle and "the military industrial complex" is name-dropped several times, but regardless of your partisan stripes there's nothing worth getting worked up at here, because, you know, who really gives a crap?
Not the blimp-wreck I was expecting, but not great either: too long (130 minutes?!) and too starved of stand-out action moments.
Not Guilty, but just barely. We'll issue a Presidential pardon for
Review content copyright © 2013 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 131 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Gag Reel
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy
* UltraViolet Download
* Official Site