Roland Emmerich, the director of such films as "Independence Day" and "The Day After Tomorrow," has a habit of destroying American landmarks on-screen. This weekend, he will do it once again, as he turns his sites toward Washington D.C. in "White House Down." The new thriller stars Channing Tatum as a plucky would-be Secret Service agent who looks to save the president (Jamie Foxx) after 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. comes under attack.
This terrorists-take-over-the-White House story may sound a bit familiar -- back in March, a film with a similar plotline called "Olympus Has Fallen" was released in theaters. However, "White House Down" is nothing like that movie (at least, for the most part).
With that in mind, here are 10 more things you should know about "White House Down" before you see it in theaters.
1. It's Fun
Compared to other big-budget blockbusters this summer, there's a lighter feeling to "White House Down." This is due to the direction of Emmerich, who is more concerned in large-scale destruction than the intricacies of hand-to-hand combat and enclosed shoot-outs. It also has to do with the film's...
2. Exemplary Supporting Cast
Most of the supporting cast of "White House Down" has been kept from the movie's elaborate marketing campaign. Sure, Tatum and Foxx are their usual terrific selves, but this film is stocked with a talented set of co-stars, including Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins, Jason Clarke, Lane Reddick, and Michael Murphy.
3. Still, the Movie Belongs to Tatum and Foxx
At its heart, "White House Down" is an old-school buddy movie. Here, Tatum is the bumbling wanna-be Secret Service agent and Foxx is the President of the United States. They spend a lot of the movie together, in a series of hair-raising scenarios. If their chemistry didn't work then the movie would be totally dead.
4. Channing Tatum Is a National Treasure
As if this needs to be restated -- the dude is a bonafide action star, and he proves it here.
5. The Action Set Pieces Are Truly Spectacular
There are a number of really wonderful action sequences in "White House Down," including an insane car chase around the front lawn of the White House and a scene involving a missile and a very unlucky Air Force One. While there are moments where the film threatens to become "Independence Day 2," it still manages to carve out its own pocket of destruction.
6. Some of the Visual Effects Are Really Iffy
For some reason, today's action films feature occasionally terrible graphics. We saw "White House Down" pretty early on and initially thought that the movie might not have been finished. We were wrong. Parts of it just look, well, fake. It's especially jarring because these moments (like a really phony-looking set of helicopters that zoom down the Washington D.C. streets like TIE Fighters) often fall right next to the genuine jaw-droppers (like the Air Force One stuff).
7. It Takes a While to Get Going
There's a whole lot of unnecessary set up before "White House Down" finally hits its stride. Why do we need to spend the better part of 30 minutes to establish that Tatum has a bad relationship with his ex-wife and child? We don't. But after those 30 minutes are up it's non-stop hands-in-the-air ass kicking. So please, sit tight, eat your popcorn with low-fat butter-like topping, and wait for the fun to begin.
8. The Bad Guys Are Believable
Instead of some outside invading force, the villains in "White House Down" are a team assembled of mostly domestic terrorists, including Jason Clarke, who plays the big bad guy with a focused purpose. The man will stop at nothing to get the job done.
9. The Score Is Underwhelming
Harald Kloser (who is part of the Emmerich inner circle) and Thomas Wanker's score is not the sweepingly grand, operatic music that usually accompanies these types of films. You'd think they could have included a memorable march or two in there. Unfortunately, they missed their mark.
10. By the End, You Are Kind of Hoping for a Sequel
Someway, somehow, Tatum and Foxx will re-team for further presidential misadventures. (I'll start working on the script tonight.)