Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx
Supporting actors: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, Joey King, James Woods, Nicolas Wright, Jimmi Simpson, Michael Murphy, Rachelle Lefevre, Lance Reddick, Matt Craven, Jake Weber, Peter Jacobson, Barbara Williams, Kevin Rankin, Garcelle Beauvais, Falk Hentschel
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Run Time: 132 minutes
White House Down is the second of the two action films about the invasion of the president’s home this year, and easily the more accessible of the two. Rather than Gerard Butler repeatedly stabbing terrorists in the skull with a knife in the same poorly-lit hallway set of the White House, White House Down has the young star power of Channing Tatum and buddy-action elements inserted with a PG-13 rating and Jamie Foxx as the leader of our nation. The action is almost completely bloodless, the strong language is doled out in moderation for the most ideal moments of impact, and the logic of Roland Emmerich’s direction is questionable at best, but White House Down is still a far more enjoyable film than Olympus Has Fallen.
The plot is filled with absurdity around every corner, beginning with a scenario that puts Capitol Policeman John Cale (Tatum) and his daughter (Joey King) in danger alongside President James Sawyer (Foxx). After a failed interview with a colleague (Maggie Gyllenhaal) for a job with the secret service, Cale is given the chance to prove that they made the wrong decision. A highly-armed group of mercenaries overtake the White House, ironically led by the head of the secret service (James Woods). When Cale is separated from his daughter in the chaos, his main goal is making sure he finds and protects her, though the president becomes a secondary concern when they cross paths.
The Obama-like president appeals to the peaceful ideals for the conflict in the
Middle East, but this doesn’t prevent him from waging war
on the terrorists invading his home. It is Cale who does a majority of the
fighting, however, making sure to lose articles of clothing along the way in
order to display the obligatory action-star muscles so we know who the hero is.
The entire endeavor would be awful if there were even the slightest attempt at
sincerity, but this is a glossy blockbuster shot on a soundstage with high tech
computer graphics that has very little interest in making anything other than
the images believable.
The Blu-ray combo pack also includes a DVD and digital HD Ultraviolet copy of the film. I was disappointed by the visuals I was getting from the Blu-ray disc, with some of the contrast and the colors seeming off from the other ways of viewing the film. On the other hand, there are far more special features exclusive to the Blu-ray than included on the DVD. Only available on the Blu-ray are nine featurettes, examining everything from the script to the visual effects in specific sequences. The impressive manner in which this film used technology to create the White House universe is worth examining in these featurettes. There is also an exclusive gag reel. Included in the DVD features, as well as the Blu-ray, are several featurettes that are far more interested in the people who made this film possible. There are several featurettes on the cast, from supporting to the stars, as well as one on the stunt training and another for director Roland Emmerich.
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Disc Features: 8/10