I like to speak in over the top hyperbole because it gets my points across quickly. But, for all the crazy statements I make, for all the stories I embellish, I know two things for certain. 1. I have the biggest dick in the world, we’re talking Sequoia sized, son. 2. President Thomas J. Whitmore’s speech at the end of Independence Day is the greatest speech every committed to film. Come on, just look at it, just watch this shit and try not to get jacked up on some old American jingoism.
You just popped a chub listening to it, didn’t you? It’s ok. I did too. Roland Emmerich will always have a sweet spot in my heart for that speech alone. The guy knows how to blend the perfect amount of excitement and sap. So I had high hopes White House Down would rock the cheese just as hard. And, while it’s not perfect like President Thomas J. Whitmore’s speech, it’s still entertaining.
White House Down stars Captain Ripple Abs as he gets stuck in the White House during a terrorist takeover. He then has to make like Die Hard and protect President Ray Charles from a bunch of crazed ex-military dudes who want to murder him. The White House explodes a few times. There’s a close quarter knife fight. And they give President Ray Charles a bazooka. All in all, there’s very little to hate.
First, as always, the good. The action scenes are clean and crisp. There’s been a trend in action movies lately to throw shit on screen and use lots of quick edits. The idea is to build a sense of kinetic action but it always looks like a mess to me. My veins can’t be throbbing with adrenaline if I don’t know what the fuck is happening on screen.
Luckily, White House Down avoids this by miles. The camera always shows where the villains are, where the heroes are, and the stakes they are fighting for. So you never once have to wonder, “Wait, what just happened?” Instead you can sit back and be like, “Snap, that was radical when President Ray Charles used a bazooka!”
Also good? The characters. There’s nothing deep here. No one will be writing psychological profiles of Captain Ripple Abs anytime soon. But he’s likable and you want to root for him. Same goes for President Ray Charles. And there are numerous other characters who are equally broad yet engaging. In an action movie, that’s all you need.
Now, the bad, White House Down never hits the great heights of Independence Day. It wants to. It wants to be the same flag waving, make you proud, buy tickets to NASCAR, chug a Bud, honk your Chevy good time that Independence Day was. Unfortunately, we live in darker times, so instead of cheesing it up, turning the stupid dial up to eleven, they tone it down to fit today’s gritty reboot Hollywood.
So there’s a tone problem with White House Down. It’s a clear clash between what it wants to be and what it should be. Yet, I will happily watch it every Fourth of July, right after I catch Independence Day. I may even start quoting bad one-liners from it in the near future. But it will never give me goosebumps like only President Thomas J. Whitmore can.