REVIEW: White House Down (2013) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: White House Down (2013)

Thie second Die Hard Clone of the year involving a terrorist attack on the White House, the first being ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, is most unquestionably the weaker of the two.  In fact, it’s an outright failure.  If we were to come up with a basic checklist of what makes a good action movie, let’s say: story, appearance and action set pieces, this hot garbage can’t even get out the fucking door.  The story and/or premise isn’t so much crap as it is spinelessly neglected, the appearance is just as offensively hideous and the action is impractical, numb and sanitised.  It has little redeeming value at all and not even a suitably patented James Woods troll job elevates it.  Look around you at the audience, it’s filled with the new generation COD kid and more than a few approving soccer moms.

And so, we examine the story.  The premise is your basic Die Hard setup: terrorists assault building, lock it down, one man army dispatches bad guys behind enemy lines.  The bad guys this time are domestic terrorists.  2D domestic terrorists, that is, long on comedic incompetence, short on back story or motive.  The writer is afraid of ‘going there’.  It lifts a hot potato and drops it, straight away.  Safe to say this isn’t a thinking man’s thriller, which is understandable, but what isn’t understandable is the 140 minute runtime.  If you purposely avoid fleshing out the story, surely the logical thing to do is cut the movie down by at least 40 minutes, to at least give the movie a good sense of pace?  What exactly was the point of the first 30 minutes of this movie, where precisely nothing happens?  Actually, something does happen.  The movie practically begs you to root for a curiously suspect Obama-like POTUS, whose real life approval ratings are (coincidentally, right?) in the toilet.  A feature that goes on right through the movie and eventually becomes laughable.  Not hip and affable, as is the intention, I said laughable.

Having insulted the intelligence of any person with an IQ in triple digits, you might think that, being an action movie and all, the movie should be taken lightly and just as a fun romp.  The problem is though, that the movie then goes on to insult our eyeballs as well.  This movie, you see, has the most abusive use of greenscreening ever put to celluloid.  In the old days, greenscreen would be used to accomplish things that were otherwise practically impossible, such as incredible stunts.  And yet here this movie is, with its $150,000,000 budget, looking like the entire thing was filmed on a Star Trek holodeck.  Even the picture above reveals it, look at the pathetic background or the horribly fake and synthetic lighting.  This cheap garbage is used for seemingly 75% of the movie.  Fake gardens, fake skies.  Fake everything.  And finally, the action itself.  It is, to use a quote from ‘The Rock’ (1996), soft-assed shit.  Aside from the imposing CGI mentioned, it all feels so ‘light’.  The guns sound like toys, there is no weight or fury.  Compared with the devastating and organic blows of ‘The Raid’, for example, the whole thing feels like inoffensive horseplay where the actors are reminded to smile and nod, so as to to offend anyone.  Bullshit.

This movie is multi-tiered cowardism presented through bush league CGI.  And it’s a good thing that it bombed, get the message, go hard or go home.