At some point of time, you were a lazy slob who enjoyed a juicy burger on your couch, its greasy sauce oozing with every bite, spilling on your shirt. You didn’t give a damn about the world, because you were 15. Now you’re nearing 30, tired of eating the same junk food for years, well aware of how greasy shitty food is bad for you. You’re offered the same burger for four times the price, at a health clinic. Would you really buy it? Such is the predicament of 'White House Down', a lazy, spitefully junky chunk of grease-filled cinema.
With 10,000 BC, Roland Emmerich proved that he couldn’t possibly make anything worse than that movie, but White House Down comes frightfully close to outdoing its dreadfulness. Starring Jamie Foxx as the POTUs and Channing Tatum as the copper who saves the POTUs, the film becomes a bigger, lumpier, unquestionably stupider version of Olympus Has Fallen.
There’s no point getting into plot details because it’s the exact same thing we saw in that Gerard Butler movie, except in the Emmerich version there are more explosions, more lame attempts at characterisation, more idiotic one liners, more eye rolls and facepalms. What differentiates this film is that watching it makes you hate yourself for being in the minority that supported Emmerich for the simple brain dead charms of 'Godzilla'.
While the Butler movie had a hilarious but entertaining North Korean conspiracy angle, 'White House Down' has a villain whose reason for being pissed with America is that he’s James Woods. And Mr Woods is in fine form here — take Ed Harris from The Rock and inject him with five doses of valium and hey presto you get the film’s antagonist.
The characters don’t really annoy as much as Emmerich’s incessant need to stupidify the story as much as possible, and to make the action scenes deadly dull instead of cheerily over the top fun like in his ’90s films. Emmerich blew up the White House with considerable spectacle in Independence Day and the entirety of this film feels like a drunk ageing has been yammering about his glory days to the bartender. Clearly, merely making big, dumb, loud films isn’t enough in 2013. We’ve all grown up. And hopefully one day Mr Emmerich will too, though the prospect of that happening is minuscule.