Action, 120 Minutes, 2013
This is one of those “worst case” scenario movies that Hollywood loves. Take something that couldn’t really happen – in this case a military invasion of the White House – then figure out a way it could. You have to, you know, ignore some meddlesome facts along the way but it can make for a fun movie. (As is often the case multiple people seemed to have the same idea which is why we got “White House Down” [IMDB] a few months later.)
After a harrowing incident Secret Service superman Mike Banning, Gerard Butler [IMDB], is removed from active White House duty. That is, of course, until it’s assaulted by heavily armed, extremely organized terrorists in an extended (really, it’s quite long) sequence. In the confusion Mike works his way into the White House and becomes the only good guy left.
Although he’s front and center on the poster Morgan Freeman [IMDB] isn’t actually the president here, but as the Speaker of the House he is in charge through most of the movie. The actual president, standing up for apple-pie and baseball, is Aaron Eckhart [IMDB]. He’s locked in his super-secure nuclear bunker with a madman. He does some truly inane things while he’s in there but who cares when Mike’s doing a John McClane impression all over the place?
Unfortunately it’s not a very good impression. The movie has the most trouble with these close, claustrophobic scenes and we really don’t get to see nearly as much of the White House underbelly as you might hope. We do get a lot of “big action” but not much in the way of the “small action” that made “Die Hard” [IMDB] such an enduring classic. Mike’s character, a well-trained killer, is also much less sympathetic than Bruce Willis’ [IMDB] everyman.
This is an exceedingly well put-together action movie. There are some truly dumb-ass things (pretty much anything the “Cerberus” subplot touches is moronic as hell) but more than enough pew-pew to get around them. Action fans will find a lot to like but unfortunately it lacks the soul to make it truly great.