Time Out São Paulo

White House Down: review

White House Down: review

Opens 6 Sep 2013

Director Roland Emmerich

Cast Channing Tatum, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jamie Fox

Olympus has fallen again! A seemingly mundane day for our commander in chief, James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx), turns near-apocalyptic when hostile forces blow up the Capitol building and take over the White House. The TV talking heads start pontificating: Could it be those damn Arabs? Nope, merely a group of disgruntled American militants led by a traitorous government operative (James Woods), who are out for vengeance and a huge payday. Fortunately, low-rung Secret Service agent John Cale (Channing Tatum) is on the premises. He quickly teams up with the more-resourceful-than-he-looks POTUS, and both of ’em start showing these unpatriotic bastards a bullet-riddled thing or two.

There should be a special kind of charge in seeing even a fictional leader of the free world brandishing a comically oversize rocket launcher (expect plenty of ‘O-BLAM!-a’ memes to surface on ye ol’ Interwebz). But director Roland Emmerich has been to this self-mockingly jingoistic well way too often. What played as rousingly dumb fun in Independence Day (1996) – all those pie-eyed nationalistic monologues, and US. landmarks reduced to rubble – now come off as callously insensitive, even with tongue firmly in cheek. It doesn’t help that all the action scenes of White House Down (O Ataque), as with many modern Hollywood blockbusters, are seemingly edited with a Cuisinart, or that the copious CGI would barely pass muster in one of those Asylum DTV quickies.

Cheap, shoddy, dull, instantly forgettable – this is the America, and American cinema, we know all too well.

By Keith Uhlich
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