Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
|Featuring:||Channing Tatum … John Cale
Jamie Foxx … President James Sawyer
Jason Clarke … Stenz
Joey King … Emily Cale
Maggie Gyllenhaal … Secret Service Agent
James Woods … Secret Service Agent Walker
Richard Jenkins … Speaker of the House
Jimmi Simpson … Skip Tyler
|Director:||Roland Emmerich—“Independence Day,” “2012,” “The Day After Tomorrow”|
|Distributor:||Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures|
“It will start like any other day.”
John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a Capitol Police Officer, whose job is to protect the Speaker of the House (Richard Jenkins). In addition, John struggles with being a single dad with his daughter, Emily (Joey King). One day, after work, John picks Emily up and surprises her with a tour of the White House. During their tour, however, an explosion is heard in the distance and reports are coming in that a group of terrorists are responsible for the destruction of the Capitol building. It’s not long before this group of terrorists takes control of the White House, leaving only John and President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) as the only two who are determined to retake control of the White House and save the United States from the terrorists.
A few months ago there was a movie that many people are familiar with called “Olympus Has Fallen.” The premise was, indeed, very similar to “White House Down.” The difference though? Olympus had an R-rating for violence, whereas “White House Down,” I had heard, had a PG-13 for violence, and so the idea was that “White House Down” was, shall I say, “tamer” on the violence level. Granted, I have never seen “Olympus Has Fallen,” and after having read the review from Christian Spotlight on the gratuitous nature of the violence and its rating, I decided not to. However, the similar story lines between Olympus and White House were still visible, even before walking into the theater.
However, this does not mean that “White House Down” was a terrible movie, by any means. Performances by Channing Tatum, Maggie Gyllenhaal (whom I’ve deemed one of my favorite actresses) and James Woods by far exceeded my expectations. I brought someone with me to this film, and I agreed with his judgment that while Jamie Foxx is certainly a good actor and a decent President, this may not have been the role for him. All the other elements of this movie were at an average rating (camerawork was okay, music was fine, etc.).
There was one element, unfortunately, of this movie that made me question what I was seeing, and that was the “in-your-face” political messages that drove the movie. Some will believe that I read too much into the film, but let me assure you I do not pay a lot of attention to politics and even I found the messages to be too forward. Here were the ideas (after consulting the person who went with and helped me fill in the blanks) that stuck out:
The idea of disarming the United States. It has been a controversial topic for quite some time now, and there is a political message throughout the movie that speaks in support of disarmament.
The issue of targeting weapons manufacturers and their role in military operations
In a sense, a conservative attacking view coming from the dialog of the film.
Now, on to the objectionable content of the film…
Violence: In my opinion? Extreme. Whether it was “tamer” than “Olympus Has Fallen,” I can’t say. But I can say, that the violence in this film is heavy and frequent (by frequent, I mean almost 2 hours of non-stop violence out of the 2 hours and 17 minutes). Some scenes include, as mentioned, the Capitol building being destroyed, Secret Service Agents (pretty much all of them) and terrorists being shot and killed (one terrorist in an almost extreme nature), a Secret Service Agent being shot with a staple gun, people being taken hostage, explosions from Air Force One and three Delta Force helicopters. There are also scenes with dead bodies, and, lastly, there is a scene where Emily is slapped hard in the face by a terrorist.
Profanity: Heavy. I counted 16 instances of G**-D***it, one instance of f**k, eight instances of h*ll, two of b**ch (three in the form of S.O.B.), five instances of a**-hole, eighteen instances of sh*t, one instance of bull-sh*t, five times where Jesus’ name is taken in vain, God’s name is taken in vain by itself two times and in the form of O.M.G. at least three times. Other crude profanity includes s*cks, sc**wed, p*ssed (2x), b*stard, and one instance of pr*ck.
Sex/Nudity: Minor. There is a scene where a snipe is using a thermal imaging device on top of the White House and sees two people having sex in another building. Also, a reference is made to “making it to second base.”
If there is an important idea that I can draw from the film, it is the concept of being ready to stand and do what is necessary, in the face of evil, and even when there’s little preparation. John Cale had to, in the film, go from a low-action Capitol police officer to being one of the only people who could protect the President and save the United States, all with very little warning. However, he did not hesitate to act when it was necessary. In the same manner, we must be prepared to fight for the Lord when we least expect it. In my opinion, this is when it matters the most. The Lord will call us at different times to fight for Him and defend Him, and he promises to defend us.
White House Down is a film where familiarity is either considered good or in a sense difficult to swallow. I walked in knowing that “White House Down” would be very similar to “Olympus Has Fallen.” Yet, somehow I have to believe “White House Down” is its own movie, and, in a sense, it is. Still, I don’t recommend “White House Down.” The violence is still extreme, the profanity is heavy and I just can’t warrant a recommendation. Wait for the DVD or better yet, skip it entirely.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.