Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema Explosive Fun

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema Explosive Fun

Article excerpt

White House Down 12A, Nationwide

Just do it, quoth the Nike advert - and these men just did it. Grass, asphalt, fear, pain, doubt and limitation; all surpassed in the pursuit of human excellence. The racing driver James Hunt and the baseball player Jackie Robinson may have practised different sports, but they were both champions.

And, with Rush and 42, they both have finelooking films dedicated to them this week.

Cinemagoers who want to tread the contours of greatness, and understand its peaks and troughs, need look no further. Hollywood has it covered.

But for those of you who just want to see some stuff blow up and some bad guys capped, then how about the movie I actually ended up watching? Roland Emmerich's White House Down.

White House Down is, of course, the second film on the theme of terrorists-knock-out-theWhite-House-before-being-scuppered-by-one-man-with-lots-of-guns this year, after Olympus Has Fallen. But before we charge it with plagiarism, it's worth remembering that director Emmerich has form in this area. The White House was comprehensively obliterated by alien death rays in his Independence Day (1996), and it must have been damaged beyond easy repair in his ecopocalypse spectacles The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and 2012 (2009). In fact, by limiting the destruction to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Emmerich is being more restrained than usual. This is his equivalent of an intimate costume drama.

This is his Hedda Gabler.

Although Ibsen would surely write sharper dialogue than this. The first, overstretched third of White House Down is a mix of sappy exposition and even sappier politics. There's Jamie Foxx as President Obama . . . no, sorry . . . President Sawyer, who wants to bring about endless peace in the Middle East by withdrawing all western troops and replacing them with a basquillion dollars of aid money. There's Channing Tatum as John Cale, a struggling war veteran who just needs one chance to prove himself to his young daughter. And there's James Woods as Martin Walker, a man in charge of both a square haircut and the President's security detail. Is Walker up to something? Let's just say that, on the morning of the attack, he removes the American flag pin from his lapel, and puts it down by a photo of his son who died in a botched military mission. …

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