'White House Down' Reviews: Should You See the Channing Tatum Thriller?

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As one part of what's shaping up to be a huge movie weekend, White House Down hits theaters Friday. The action movie, in which police officer Channing Tatum has to rescue President Jamie Foxx from attack at the White House, comes courtesy of Independence Day and 2012 director Roland Emmerich. Thanks to the sheer multitude of explosions in White House Down, it's likely you might confuse the film with Olympus Has Fallen, a March movie with the exact same plot but different actors, or Black Hawk Down, the 2001 war epic with a very similar title. If you need a way to keep track, just remember that White House Down includes a sweaty Tatum in a tank top. In case that's not enough reason for you to pick it over The Heat, Monsters University, and the other summer blockbusters, here's what critics are saying about White House Down.

On Channing Tatum:

Even if his character is derivative of Die Hard's John McClaine, everyone seems to love Tatum, especially during comedic moments.

"The character is a carbon copy of Bruce Willis’ wisecracking John McClane, right down to spending half the movie working up a sweat in a wife-beater. But it’s a snug fit for Tatum, who strikes the right balance between everyman screw-up and quick-thinking, fearless dynamo, equally determined to rescue his daughter and protect the President." — The Hollywood Reporter

"Tatum is a consistently likable Everyman who proves his mettle à la Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies — with less smirking." — USA Today

"Tatum, though sold as a side of beef, still works his appealing everyguy charm." — NY Daily News

On Jamie Foxx:

Foxx is also a favorite among the critics, who all agree that his President Sawyer is clear homage to President Obama.

"Foxx is, as always, a stabilizing force, even as the slapdash goofiness gets out of control. (Thousands throng to watch the attack? Really?) He earns a solid vote of confidence as a sneaker-clad POTUS who kicks a villain off him by ordering, 'Hands off my Jordans!'" — NY Daily News

"Jamie Foxx, Academy Award winner for his brilliant performance in “Ray,” is a great actor, and he does a satisfactory job here, but he doesn’t leave much of an impact when all is said and done. This could be because he doesn’t really exude a presidential personality, making him seem like an odd choice for the role." — Examiner

On Watching Washington Explode... Again:

Emmerich is no stranger to damaging the nation's capitol and seems to be trying to top his own breakout film, Independence Day.

"But director Roland Emmerich has been to this self-mockingly jingoistic well way too often. What played as rousingly dumb fun in Independence Day (1996)—all those pie-eyed nationalistic monologues, and U.S. landmarks reduced to rubble—now come off as callously insensitive, even with tongue firmly in cheek." — Time Out

"Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow and 2012) is obviously an expert in staging disasters, but I question, particularly in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, whether Americans under direct attack—the Capitol building is blown up in an early sequence—would really would crowd into the streets to watch rather than taking cover." — Time

On the Plot:

Sure, there's not much logic to the plot or depth to the villains, but critics say that if you can shut your brain off for two hours, you'll have tons of fun watching.

"The film really was a lot funnier than I expected, but that’s not enough to stop it from being just another big, dumb action flick. Like many of its predecessors, it’s too long and stretched out, running a bloated 131 minutes, much of which is filled with gunfire and explosions. It’s strange though, the film is a little better than it has a right to be. It’s not recommendable, but nor is it the disaster I thought it was going to be. What it ends up being is a humorous, forgettable, exploding, mundane romp." — Examiner

"None of the actions taken by administration officials during the takeover make a lick of sense. So it's best to simply sit back and enjoy the camaraderie of Tatum and Foxx as they narrowly avert disaster. Who can resist a war hero willing to risk everything to protect his adorable daughter and his high-minded president in one movie? It's popcorn patriotism at its finest." — USA Today

On Roland Emmerich's Direction:

The action veteran knows his way around an explosion, but doesn't deliver anything we haven't seen from him before.

"It takes a certain kind of genius to crank out blockbusters as spectacularly silly as Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. And the main difference between Emmerich and fellow maestros of mayhem like Michael Bay is that he actually seems to be in on the joke. He knows his movies are preposterous nonsense and he embraces it." — Entertainment Weekly

"if nothing else, Emmerich is a great widescreen showman who knows how to stage mayhem on a grand scale. Compared to something like A Good Day To Die Hard, his compositions and camera movements look downright elegant. (White House Down may be the only big-budget action movie released this year not to feature a single handheld shot or zoom.)" — AV Club

On Tatum and Foxx's Chemistry:

The two actors make a great team and bring some of the fim's funniest scenes.

"Cale doesn’t spend the movie trying to rescue Sawyer but rather on the run with the president, looking for Emily and plotting their escape. This affords Tatum and Foxx a lot of shared screen time, in which they project an effortless, ingratiating chemistry that recalls Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the first Lethal Weapon pic, the characters bonding as fathers and patriots whenever they aren’t dodging bullets." — Variety

"Their nigh-instantaneous camaraderie makes the alternately corny and convoluted routine of the rest a bit easier to take, even as Emmerich makes every effort to supplant intelligence with patriotism." — Film.com

On White House Down vs. Olympus Has Fallen:

Of course, critics had to let us know which of the White House takeover movies was better, and White House Down is the unanimous winner.

"Comparisons between this and last March's similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen are going to be inevitable, so let me just say that Emmerich's is the D.C. disaster flick to see. Skip it, and you'll be depriving yourself of one of the summer's most satisfyingly stupid pleasures." — Entertainment Weekly

"In its corner, Emmerich’s film has a user-friendly PG-13 rating in place of the earlier release’s R. It also trades up by swapping dour Gerard Butler for the simpatico pairing of Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, even if screenwriter James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man) wavers in his commitment to teasing out the humor in their rapport." The Hollywood Reporter

"Though both pics were majority shot far from the actual Beltway ― “Olympus” in Louisiana and “White House” in Montreal ― Emmerich’s film is a far better sell, from production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli’s enormously impressive replica set to the visual effects by longtime Emmerich collaborators Volker Engel (an Oscar winner for “Independence Day”) and Marc Weigert. Relatively speaking, the new pic is shrewder politically, too, giving us an enemy from within America’s own borders in place of “Olympus’” central-casting North Korean baddies." — Variety

"With its well-choreographed mayhem, Down... is an over-the top, Die Hard-style thriller that will make pulses race more than the recent, similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen." — USA Today

Image: Columbia