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Movie Review

White House Down

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Action Crime Thriller Drama
2 hr. 17 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
June 28, 2013 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: November 5, 2013
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures


bravery / courage / self-sacrifice

Featuring: Channing TatumJohn Cale
Jamie FoxxPresident James Sawyer
Jason Clarke … Stenz
Joey King … Emily Cale
Maggie GyllenhaalSecret Service Agent
James WoodsSecret Service Agent Walker
Richard JenkinsSpeaker of the House
Jimmi Simpson … Skip Tyler
more »
Director: Roland Emmerich—“Independence Day,” “2012,” “The Day After Tomorrow”
Producer: Mythology Entertainment
Centropolis Entertainment
more »
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:

  1. 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.

  2. The issue of targeting weapons manufacturers and their role in military operations

  3. 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—This is a great movie, but 1st I want to say the official review above has an error, they state, “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” This is not an accurate statement. The sniper sees one person on top of another person with the thermal imaging device. Because there is ONLY thermal imagery, you do not see any details, and can only guess what these 2 people are doing.

While there was violence in the film and lots of violent action. I noticed they tended to take the camera away for the end of the violent acts, leaving imagination of the deaths. I noticed they did this more than once. I thought it was a nice touch to make it more family friendly. However, I thought they had the President swear/curse to much. They tried to make him a role model of being a good politician, yet he cursed. I know everyone has heard why can’t they just clean up movies more. Because they don’t have God in their lives and that just isn’t gonna happen. So here’s one movie with a reasonable amount of morality, and no nudity, for families to enjoy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Doma, age 40 (USA)
Positive—I recommend this movie to the whole family, except to 13 years old and below. I thought this movie is bad, because of the reviews I read here, but me and my family pursued on watching this film because we love Channing Tatum. Most of his films we saw are family friendly. I’ll state the good and the bad thing about this movie. The good thing is that, the stars are huge, there’s little cute comedy, filled with breathtaking action scenes, and it’s about patriotism, and love of the family.

The bad thing is that there is an image that somehow shows a man and a woman on the bed, but it was really not that obvious and not important at all, maybe 0.001% of the film showed that part but it is not considered nudity for me. Then most of these guys use bad words, but what can we do about it, this is not a Christian film.

Overall, I really recommend this film for the whole family, no nudity, little bad words, and extremely awesome action scenes packed with comedy and relationships. Very nice!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Bemmygail, age 22 (Philippines)
Negative—As an action thriller, it’s good, though Channing Tatum is imitating the veteran action heroes like Bruce Willis—especially the Die Hard films, look at the behavioural patterns. Now, the bad thing, it’s an extremely negative film in the political side. The whole premise of the movie revolves around a good African American president and an equally great world trying to make peace and the “bad” Americans trying to destroy all the ideals. First of all, I am an Indian from the state of Kerala (the southern tip of India), and I found this movie is so much multicultural propaganda, while the self vilification of Western culture is evident.

1. The bad guys—most of them have xenophobic history against coloured people or background of White extremism.

2. Iran and Middle East are showing in a good light even, there are plot twists and affirmations like “Iran is a nuclear free country but there WILL BE,” asserting like the USA will plant nukes in Iran to make an offensive strike.

3. The TV programs immediately blaming Arabs, we think that’s true, but in reality media always cover for Arabs and Muslims, while atheists and agnostics like Timothy McVeigh and Andrei Brevick are portrayed as fundamental Christians.

4. The whole picture makes a myth into a reality and get that idea into the audience.

The subliminal messages are (1) don’t worry about the Arab terrorism, the real terrorists are American politicians and the government officials. (2) Jamie Foxx’s character is a fictional “Obama” who is idealistic and brave, while the real Obama is still supporting Muslim Brotherhood and outspoken advocate of blaming Old Testament as violent texts (while praising Islam). These type of political propaganda is another example of self-vilification of the Hollywood and Western media. While praising other countries and other cultures while building guilt and contempt of own culture is a growing trend in Hollywood, media, and academia.

As an Indian I can see it plainly, why can’t the Western audience couldn’t see this… Is this the wilful blindness?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kurian Thomas, age 32 (India)
Negative—“White house down” is a wannabe “Die Hard”. Unfortunately, it falls short on all levels. The action sequences are full of poor quality special effects, the acting is laughable (or possibly the direction). The script is lacking. Tatum Channing tries to be Bruce Willis, right down to the white A-style tee shirt, but he lacks the wisecracking, “I’m too sexy for my filthy tee shirt” swagger that made Bruce Willis a star, and “Die Hard” an instant classic. And the villains in “White House” lacked the menacing, evil persona that Alan Rickman and crew protraited so brilliantly.

The movie is boring and way too long. Thank goodness I viewed using a free rental credit. Even a buck and a quarter, this movie would have been a rip off.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Deborah Plumb, age 54 (USA)
Negative—This movie is nothing but political propaganda. The “terrorist” are white gun wielding “conservatives”. Yes, they even use that word when describing them in the movie. The president is clearly supposed to represent Obama, but in an extremely glorified way. There is so much in this movie that is just a total lie, its hard to remember it all.

The Muslim countries are the peacemakers and have everything together, conservatives are home grown terrorists, the military are a bunch of blundering imbeciles, right wingers are destroying the country, socialist policies are keeping the country safe, the President can do no wrong, ect. There is a scene that clearly shows on the presidents night stand a book by Nelson Mandela (who was a communists, anarchist, and racist) implying that that is why the President in the movie is such a good leader, because he studies people like Mandela (and another pro-liberal theme in the movie). More importance is put on this great “savior” President then in the idea that America is what is great.

The end of the movie the girl picks up the flag with the seal of the President to wave in victory, rather then that of the flag of the United States of America.

This movie is made under the guise of patriotism, but is extremely unpatriotic. It is anti-American, anti-convervitive, pro-communist. A movie made by liberals to promote their agenda with enough action and funny lines to make people think that its actually a good movie. I would not recommend.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—James, age 28 (USA)

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