When I saw the preview for “White House Down” I thought it might be a buddy comedy. Two guys presiding over the destruction of one of the nation’s most recognized landmarks. But, instead the film, directed by Roland Emmerich, is a serious thriller with some strange out-of-place comedy riffs along the way. The comedy bits, mostly by the secondary characters, never fit in.
Here’s what happens: a group of mercenaries invade the White House after creating a diversion at the U.S. Capitol Building. They’re posing as home theater repairmen, but why there’s over a half-dozen of them or more is never explained. They successfully capture the White House, but then there’s that “Fly in the ointment, Hans.” Channing Tatum is a Secret Service wannabe who is visiting the White House with his daughter. From this point on, it seems we have a “Die Hard in the White House” situation. Except, there’s no Hans Gruber, delightfully played by Alan Rickman. No, there’s a variety of villains led by at least one mystery man, an insider. It’s not hard to guess who this person might be. But, that’s not up to me, to point him out.
“White House Down” works for the most part as a moderately entertaining thriller. The screenplay, like Emmerich’s last film, “The Day After Tomorrow” is politically heavy-handed. I don’t like my politics spoon-fed to me. I prefer it be a little more subtle. But, just like “The Day After Tomorrow,” the politics is dumbed down for the masses and you must suffer through it to get to the end.
So, call it a thriller with some weird comedy riffs, too much politics and a screenplay that bears too much of a resemblance to the original “Die Hard.” Grade: C-