Like any red-blooded American, I spent part of my holiday last week rewatching Independence Day. Granted, it was in a dive bar with the sound off, but that gave me an opportunity to appreciate what Roland Emmerich accomplished. His naysayers say his imagery is over-the-top, yet he knows how to build anticipation so all that wanton destruction never feels excessive. In the years since ID4, Emmerich could never quite recapture his remax of classic B-movie genres, at least until White House Down.
The only surprising thing about White House Down is that it was never made before. The premise is refreshingly simple: Die Hard, but with the White House instead of Nakatomi Plaza. Everyone in the film is having a great time, particularly Channing Tatum as the hero cop and Jamie Foxx as the President (and obvious Obama stand-in). You may recall that White House Down came out around the same time as Olympus Has Fallen, which features an assault on the same building. These films are stark contrasts in how to make an action film: both films are serious, and only one of them knows it.
White House Down is not a particularly great DC movie. It includes some B-roll of Channing Tatum driving through the city, but the majority of the film takes place on building and surrounding area. All that being said, it does have a running gag where the President swaps his dress shoes for a pair of loafers. In a key fight sequence, he repeatedly kicks a terrorist while shouting, “HANDS OFF MY JORDANS!” This humanizes the office in a way that must make politicos salivate. When Barack Obama had his famous mic drop at the Correspondents’ Dinner, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was partially inspired by White House Down. That’s the kind of fun, thoughtful propaganda that makes this Washington movie an honorary DC movie, too.