Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Movie Review : White House Down

Spoiler Alert!

It’s been a while since I've reviewed a movie, but this one deserves it. I mean, anytime you put Channing Tatum in a movie it needs to be talked about. Because he’s sexy and I want to have his babies. But I digress.

Channing Tatum, an ex-military dad, John Cale, looking for a Secret Service job, stars along side Jamie Foxx, who plays the nation’s first black president, James Sawyer, in the midst of political controversy. Channing’s daughter, Emily, is played by Joey King and his wife, Melanie, by Rachelle Lefevre. Throw in Maggie Gyllenhaal as Mrs. Finnerty, Jason Clarke as Stenz, James Woods as Walker and Lance Reddick as General Caulfield and you've got a pretty amazing and diverse cast. Everyone delivers a stellar performance that keep true to the character from beginning to end. My only complaint with the acting is unfortunately with Tatum. While he looks amazing in everything he does, I can’t tell if the script is lacking or his acting because I have a hard time feeling that connection between Tatum and his more serious lines. Joey King puts on an incredible performance as a spunky, defiant and brave pre-teen. Hers was possibly the best role in the film. That said, Foxx and Tatum tag-teamed their comedy scenes so well it looked like they've been doing stand-up together.

I have mixed feelings on the plot. On one hand, I’m excited by domestic terrorists taking over the White House with all that fancy technology only to be thwarted by a single man. Classic stuff there. I definitely wasn't expecting some twists to the story although some things were obviously going to happen (did you really think they weren't going to have surface to air missiles?). Unfortunately, all the awesome action and humorous scenes are shadowed by the elephant-in-the-room theme of a Caucasian group running a coup d'état to oust the black president because he favors boring peace over profitable war. Obviously not any reference to the current POTUS, not even down to the speech style, accent and family. Obviously. Given the timing of the movie, I’m concerned that the message of the movie is a warning towards the President and his current political campaign. It shows that we don’t have to worry about outside countries attacking us as much as within our own country because people are so much more concerned about money in their own pocket than doing to the right thing. But it also shows that after much death and destruction, the good guys come out in the end. *Shrugs* Who knows?

Cinematically, I don’t think they showed Channing Tatum undressed enough. Just joking! Maybe… Really, the film had plenty of gunfire and explosions and fighter jets and yet still paid attention to the details, like the priceless Ming vase gifted by Queen Elizabeth herself. I’m a sucker for these kinds of things. They did a very good job of keeping the obvious computer animation down to a tolerable level, at least until the very end with the last fly-over of the helicopters over the National Mall. Even with the water rippling, I felt that was a bit awkward, as if the film’s permit for filming in flight around the area was up so they had to ‘shop in that scene. There were also a few noticeable moments, again at the end, when it seemed like solo scenes of Tatum were suddenly in HD, then back to regular when other people entered the frame. As much as I could stare at his body in high-def, the switch was disconcerting. What I did appreciate was the lack of gratuitous blood-shed and swearing. Yes, there was plenty of both, and several close-encounter grenade explosions, but I didn't have to constantly see someone’s head being blown apart by a 50-cal in close range or see body parts flying across the screen. Ew. So kudos to that department, whatever they’re called, for tastefully limiting the amount of blood, guts and gore on screen.

Overall, I was pleased with the movie. I’d potentially even see it again, at a matinee price. I enjoyed watching Channing Tatum run around all hot and sexy when he’s not being awkward with his serious acting lines. Okay, so I even enjoyed his awkwardness. The cast stayed in character, there were plenty of explosions and plot twists, and several ‘happy-aw’ moments and ‘wtf where they thinking-aw’ moments to round out the movie. I would recommend this movie for anyone who just wants to enjoy an action movie. If you’re going to sit there and nitpick about the movie’s failings, don’t bother, because there are some (several to you). If you just saw Magic Mike and feel the need to see every movie Tatum is in, sorry ladies (hey, and gents), he’s not anywhere near nude in this movie, just button-down shirtless. Which is still good enough for me!