The US president’s home is under attack, again. Less than six months after dastardly North Korean commandos stormed Washington in Olympus Has Fallen, White House Down finds another bunch of heavily armed assailants seizing control of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Fortunately, another lone hero – cut from the mould of Bruce Willis’s John McClane – is on hand to save the day. Here, it’s Channing Tatum’s divorced dad John Cale, who is combining a Secret Service job interview with taking his 11-year-old daughter (Joey King) on a tour of the White House when the building gets taken over by terrorists. Sure enough, stripped down to the sweaty vest that that Willis made de rigueur for action heroes, he’s soon proving his mettle.
Jamie Foxx’s liberal, pacifist, Obama-like president gets in on the act, too, wielding an RPG from the passenger seat of the presidential limo as it careers across the White House lawns with Cale at the wheel.
Somehow, Tatum and Fox pull off such scenes with a mix of armour-plated charm and tongue-in-cheek bravado, while director Roland Emmerich indulges the penchant for wreaking havoc on iconic buildings he displayed in Independence Day and 2012.
Whether this will be enough to tempt viewers back into the cinema so soon after Olympus Has Fallen is open to question. Emmerich has a bigger budget to play with than Olympus director Antoine Fuqua yet fails to get more bangs for his bucks or outdo his predecessor’s guilty-pleasure thrills.
And that’s despite the sight of such pros as Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins and James Woods impressively keeping a straight face as they bat exchanges like this back and forth. ‘How are you still awake?’ ‘Caffeine and patriotism.’
With Olympus Has Fallen it was the effects that were cheesy; here it’s the script.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 131 mins. Director Roland Emmerich.