'White House Down' Gets Mediocre Reviews
White House Down, the latest Channing Tatum vehicle, opened in theaters on Friday to a lukewarm reception from film’s top critics. The biggest complaint: 'Haven’t we seen this before?'
White House Down follows the template of government-siege movies of summer blockbuster seasons past and present. As the story goes, the White House is under attack and an unlikely hero – and his more unlikely sidekick – endeavor to save the day and the person who means the most in the world to them. In White House Down, Cale (Tatum) is on a tour of the White House with his daughter Emily (Joey King) when D.C. comes under attack. With a rocket-launching president (Jamie Foxx) by his side, he attempts the save his beloved country and child.
Boston Herald’s James Verniere plainly wrote, “If you missed Olympus Has Fallen, you’ll get another chance with White House Down – they’re the same move. Bloomberg News critic Greg Evans echoed the sentiment, writing, “The movie is déjà vu if you’ve seen the stinker Olympus Has Fallen.”
White House Down is also reminiscent of director Roland Emmerich’s hit 90s film Independence Day. “This is the second time he’s blown up the White House on screen,” wrote Verniere. “What gives, Ro? Hasn’t America been nice enough to you?” Slate's Dana Steven’s also mentioned the similarity, writing, “he’s back with another massive imagined attack on our nation’s capital in White House Down — this time not via alien invasion, but a humanity-driven inside job.”
Stevens, however, appreciated the film as a whole, despite its redundancy. “Even as the story accrues preposterousness, the action moves along crisply, and Tatum and Foxx hit a nice buddy-movie vibe,” she wrote. “In this season of solemnly manly blockbusters, I appreciated the boyish energy of White House Down, a movie that, for all its flamboyant destructiveness, has a playful innocence at its core.”
The New York Times critic Manohla Dargis also thought the film had its redeeming qualities. “The spatial confines help keep the stakes and the vibe somewhat more intimate than in many action flicks, which helps save [Emmerich] from indulging in one of those numbing finales that plague the genre,” Dargis wrote. “He gives it plenty of pow, while Mr. Tatum provides the pulse."
“What does it matter if the absurdity is slovenly, the whimsy leaden, the extravagance squalid?” the Wall Street Journal review read. “[White House Down] bespeaks a fatigue that’s hard to distinguish from brain death."
White House Down, which also stars Maggie Gyllenhall, Jason Clarke and Richard Jenkins is rated PG-13. It’s currently in wide release.