The Review: 'White House Down' Goes Off the Rails and Tastes Like Mountain Dew

The Review: 'White House Down' Goes Off the Rails and Tastes Like Mountain Dew

Jun 28, 2013

It was inevitable that Hollywood would eat 9/11, crap out garbage like Remember Me (a film so exploitive and reprehensible that it felt like a dare) and higher quality but still horrifyingly too-soonish docudramas like United 93, then decide to take a step in the other, safer direction, the one where all the villains are substituted with other "others" and we get to win against them every time. Hence, Olympus Has Fallen and its idiot identical cousin, this thing.

This thing starts with wannabe Secret Service guy Channing Tatum talking to a squirrel as it invades a birdhouse. It's a cheeky terrorist, that squirrel, rodent Al-Qaeda, and Tatum is going to make sure it leaves that birdhouse alone. Tatum fails at this, which is why they won't hire him to be real Secret Service. But in the clutch, when it matters most, he won't fail against government official James Woods -- seen in the opening seconds of this thing solemnly removing his American flag lapel pin like only someone with a trio of sixes carved into his scalp could, his face changing from one of personal discomfort to KILLYOUALL -- when Woods and his team of ragtag baddies bomb the Capitol building and set their sights on... well, that's the not-so-secret secret of this thing. What could these terrible dudes want with President Flarack Floflama (Jamie Foxx) and his Vice President Floe Fliden (Michael Murphy)? Will it eventually involve the thrilling sight of Jamie Foxx machine-gunning this team of Timothy McVeighs, Tatum's little badass daughter (Joey King) defiantly standing against men with access to nuclear codes and everyone getting into a comedy car chase that might rightly be scored by "Yakety Sax?" YES IT WILL!

There's a reason the bad guys hate this movie prez. He's the uncompromised Lefty dream version of the man who currently actually sleeps in the White House, a leader who lectures the G8 summit on global poverty, a man who rebukes the military industrial complex, a man with neon-blue progressive blood in his veins and no seeming political resistance from the Right. In other words, the kind of guy who would genuinely inspire rogue Tea Partiers to start the armed civil war they only jaw about on various Internet tough-guy Twitter accounts.

It's off the rails from the get-go, pandering to everybody at once, genuflecting at the altar of fantasy gun worship but also courting its own target audience to root against its own worst instincts. Crazier still, for a film as resolutely committed to absolute stupidity and hot-brained obviousness, it's also inadvertently and confusingly observant about American political divisiveness in a way that flamboyantly liberal TV shows like The Newsroom can only hope to capture. We have met the enemy and he is us and you and them and some other dude and maybe that guy over there but we're all in this together, maybe, I think, so jingoism and tolerance and peacenikking and explosions and planes as bombs and child heroes and brutal death are all simultaneously on and off the menu of filmic endorsement. Got it? No?

That's because in the nonsense economy of this thing, this entertaining brain suck, it both does and does not matter. It's a political film that isn't, an action movie that thinks it's a comedy, a comment on nothing that says it all. It's a moron blast of Die Harding and Death Wishing with a touch of Ramona and Beezus and grief amnesia pulverized into a big gulp of Vitamix dumb juice. Drink up if you want. It tastes like Mountain Dew.


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