HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: White House Down
HTS Overall Score:91
Roland Emmerich is the undisputed king of epic disaster movies, whether it be blowing up the white house and nuking an alien invasion in “Independence Day” or watching the entire world crumble around us in “2012” to having Godzilla himself invade the world. Not satisfied with small scale things he loves to amp it up to the extreme and shoot for the sky, no matter how ludicrous that may seem. Sometimes it works for him (ID4, Universal Soldier) and other times he’s made some truly wince worthy films (2012, 10,000 B.C.), but not matter the result he loves to go about it with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. His political messages, his special effects, his action sequences all have about the subtlety and finesse of a T-rex inside of a glass shopping center, the collateral damage may be high, but it will always be an epic ride.
John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a capital police officer who aspires to be a secret service agent. His personal life has been in disarray, with an estranged wife and a daughter who will hardly speak to him, but hopefully he has the ability to turn his life around with a new job opportunity and some White House passes for his daughter Emily (Joey King), who happens to be a history buff. All of that falls on it’s ear when their White House tour is cut short by a group of terrorists who invade the premises, taking Emily and John hostage along with the rest of the presidential staff. Masterminded by the head of the Secret Service, Martin Walker (James Woods) the terrorists search the White House form head to toe looking for President James Sawyer (James Woods) and demand that the U.S. government hand over 400 million dollars from the federal reserve.
As with all terrorist plots there is a fly in the ointment. John is not about to sit around and leave his daughter in the hands of criminals and unleashes his own special brand of justice on them. Finding President Sawyer he leads the terrorists on a merry goose chase, slipping through their hands at every turn and coming closer and closer to getting his daughter back. Unfortunately time is not on his side, with the President behind enemy lines the 25th amendment is instituted and the mantle of commander and chief is given to the next man in line. Problem is, is that the new President authorizes an attack on the White House in order to end this conflict once and for all. With that in mind John has to rescue the President from a maniac who will stop at nothing, get his daughter out of harm’s way AND get all of them away from a building that’s going to be attacked by the greatest military force on earth.
It’s amusing that there has been two “Die Hard” clones this year regarding the White House and each one of them has been better than the last two “Die Hard” films combined (although that doesn’t take much effort with the latest installment in Bruce Willis’ failing series). “Olympus has Fallen” was the harder cut, grittier version of the two films, while “White House Down” takes a more tongue in cheek approach, and seems a bit more light hearted with a much larger squib budget (the guy who got the contract for the squib explosions in this movie is now a gazillionaire). The film runs along at a fast pace and keeps the audience engaged with nonstop action and one liners coming out the wazoo. There is of course the obligatory cheesy lines that permeate the film, and some truly wince worthy ones at that. All of that said, the good cheese outweighs the rotten cheese by a goodly margin and kept me with a silly grin on my face for the majority of the film.
Don’t expect to see a whole lot of complex characters in this film, this is basically a “Die Hard” clone in the White house, so expect to see the unwilling hero, the maniacal terrorist leader, the countless amount of Red Shirts and military leaders making moronic decisions. We even have the eccentric hacker who’s got more one liners than anyone else in the movie (he did redeem himself though, since in the movie he had previously hacked into the U.S. Military and re-targeted our missile systems to target Apple headquarters after a dispute with their file sharing services….so at least we know he uses PC’s ). John is about as “Channing Tatumish” as you can get, utilizing the hunky charm that’s got him this far in the movie business, moving through bad guys at a mile a minute and making wise cracks every moment he can. Jaimie Foxx was the wild card here, I rolled my eyes at the mention of him playing the POTUS in the trailers, but then I remembered, this is a Roland Emmerich film, nothing is as it normally would be. It’s going to be over the top and ridiculous to the extreme, and as expected, Jaimie played his suave, jive President to the extreme and I actually was cracking up quite a bit from his ludicrous portrayal.
My only REAL problem, besides some of the dialogue, was that I think the film went on for about 20 minutes too long. At 2 hours and 12 minutes I felt the actioneer was pushing its welcome and could have been wrapped up about 15-20 minute earlier at a natural stopping point. Instead the ending felt a little sluggish due to the bloated amount of storytelling they tried to push in at the last few minutes. Also, even though it IS a Roland Emmerich film, the political message seemed to be rammed down the throat without at least TRYING to make it more palatable. That being said it wasn’t enough to pull me out of the action long enough to really do more than make a mental note of it.
Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13631[/img]Oh boy, I was hoping for a great visual presentation form the Blu-ray after seeing “White House Down” in the theater, and frankly, I was not disappointed. “White House Down” explodes onto home video with a fantastic 2.39:1 AVC transfer, literally loaded to hilt with fine detail and rich colors. The film has distinct Teal color grading to it which combined with the naturally dark filming style would be cause for worry, but thankfully the transfer is so pristine that those copious dark scenes don’t take anything away from the viewing experience. Blacks are inky as can be and there is literally NO black crush that I could find. The colors are rich and given a sort of surreal tone to them thanks to the teal color grading, but fine detail is exceptional all throughout the film. Facial tones and textures are spot on and you can see every blade of grass, or chunk of debris detailed with the utmost care. Contrast is very well balanced and there is very little to complain about in the film. My only complaint is that one or two scenes had some sort of weird softness that I can only attribute to the filming conditions. Otherwise, this is a near flawless presentation of the source material.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=13632[/img]I expected a great track from such an explosive action movie, but I wasn’t prepared for how impressed I was at the detail and balance of the track. Most action films tend to go overboard with the LFE (which is something most of us bass heads love), but this one ran a fine line between explosive LFE and keeping it in check when needed. Bullets and explosions could literally rip down the walls one moment, and then receding into the background the next without keeping a throbbing pulse to keep our ears aching when Bass isn’t needed. Some people may want a little more LFE, but I was VERY pleased at the restraint and tactical usage of the powerful LFE moments rather than saturate the entire film with a low end that is unnatural. When those black hawk helicopters come in for the final battle though, make no mistake the gloves are off and the subs won’t lack for any content being sent to them. The surrounds were used with superb precisions, drawing the listener into a whirlwind of bullets, flying chunks of debris and roaring vehicles in such a manner as I can only describe as “totally immersive”. Through all that the dialogue is VERY well balanced, never seeming out of phase with the thunderous action going on around it and keeping that dialogue firmly locked in the front channel. I was truly mesmerized and have to say that it’s one of the better sound tracks that I’ve heard in a long long time.
• Gag Reel
• A Dynamic Duo
• Enchanted Environment
• The Beast
• Men of Action
• The Full Arsenal
• VFX Boundaries Breakdown
• The Inside Story
• Presidential Treatment
• Lights, Camera, Heart-Pumping Action
• Roland Emmerich - Upping the Ante
• Crashing the Oval Office
• Drowning the Beast
• Recreating the White House
• Meet the Insiders
For those of you going in hoping for a well-crafted action movie that will survive the decades, then look elsewhere, but for those of you who are looking for some explosive action that is filled with tasty cheese and pretty explosions than look no further. It’s not going to win the academy awards, but I had a blast watching the destructive tendencies of Roland Emmerich unfold across the screen, and it’s fun to see the good ole action movies of the 90’s trying to make a comeback. Channing Tatum may not be the best and most liked action star ever, but he did a solid job at being the “lone man to save the day” here and with the movies exceptional audio/video AND extras scores (I know, I’m shocked to see a film get such good treatment on the extras) I have no hesitations on recommending this for a watch for all you action junkies.
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: James Vanderbilt
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English, Portuguese: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Thai DD 5.1
Studio: Sony Pictures
Blu-Ray Release Date: Nov 5th, 2013
Buy White House Down Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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