Blows up real good

Attack on White House sets hero’s blood boiling

Posted: June 28, 2013 at 2:38 a.m.

Not without my daughter! Capitol police officer John Cale (Channing Tatum) finds himself in a situation slightly above his pay grade in White House Down.

Channing Tatum is such a likable actor - handsome, athletic and accessible in a self-effacing way. He’s a welcome addition to almost any movie cast, from his role as academically challenged undercover cop Jenko in 2012’s otherwise unremarkable 12 Jump Street to playing himself as a sex toy to Danny McBride in This Is the End (you’ve got to see it to believe it).

I'm with the tour

Terrorists pick the wrong moment to strike the White House — while Capitol Police Officer John Cale (Channing Tatum) is taking his young daughter on a tour.
[View Full-Size]

Same goes for Jamie Foxx, with his big, easy smile, sharp comic timing, and enviable ability to transform into a range of characters from a vengeful, violent former slave in Django Unchained to timid Los Angeles cab driver Max, the hostage of a contract killer (Tom Cruise) in 2004’s stylish thriller Collateral. Oh, and there’s that Best Actor Oscar for his starring role in 2004’s Ray.

The natural camaraderie between Tatum and Foxx goes a long way toward elevating White House Down a few notches above the everyday noisy, cliche-ridden, dopey, blow-stuff-up summer movie. Directed by Roland Emmerich of expensive blockbuster fame (he famously blew up the White House in the opening minutes of 1996’s Independence Day), White House Down is exactly what you’d expect it to be, with no Academy Awards in sight.

Tatum plays U.S. Capitol police officer John Cale, a former soldier whose application for employment as a protector of the president was rejected by the Secret Service after an awkward interview with agency deputy director Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal) at her White House office. Since he’s there anyway, Cale is touring the White House with his politically obsessed 11-year-old daughter Emily (Joey King) on the very day that well-armed paramilitary invaders led by Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke) show up. So much for the tour.

Things turn nasty as Cale takes on the task of rescuing President James Sawyer (Foxx), along with Emily, from the destructive mercenaries who are apparently unhappy with the president’s anti-war policies.

Richard Jenkins, who plays Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson (the object of Cale’s protection at the Capitol), brings his usual calm, everyman competence to the production, as does dependable Gyllenhaal as a dedicated, no-nonsense bureaucrat in a nicely fitted pant suit.

The action takes a while to crank up. When it does it’s not quite at the gargantuan level of Independence Day, but more intimate. The focus is on our heroes hustling from one calamitous situation to the next while exchanging wisecracks, which are the best moments in the film. It would have benefited from more.

Foxx’s aforementioned comic ability comes in handy when portraying a dignified president with a passion for Air Jordans. And Tatum is more than just a pretty face; his physicality makes him a credible player in the standoff against the terrorists, plus he’s no slouch in the humor department either.

Those with a fondness for Washington landmarks such as the White House and the U.S. Capitol might find this film hard to watch. Others may as well, since it’s about 30 minutes too long.

White House Down 82 Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Joey King, Richard Jenkins, Jason Clarke Director: Roland Emmerich Rating: PG-13 for action, violence Running time: 137 minutes

MovieStyle, Pages 31 on 06/28/2013