ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

White House Down will soon be over-exaggeratedly exploding onto a big screen near you, but is it worth your money to go and see? And more importantly, is it better than 's Washington wreck-athon, Olympus Has Fallen? To find out, here is a review round-up from the glorious internet.

David Rooney over at The Hollywood Reporter is perhaps the first critic out of the starting gate. Before anyone even saw White House Down, many were drawing obvious similarities to Die Hard, however Rooney adds a few more movies to that list:

A self-referential nod to Independence Day notwithstanding, the director’s derivative gaze in White House Down turns mainly toward the Die Hard franchise. He adds a little Air Force One patriotic peril, some Lethal Weapon buddy banter and Homeland-style national security angst, resulting in an action thriller that doesn't know when to quit. For the most part, though, it remains preposterously entertaining, which should make it a sturdy entry in the early-summer popcorn stakes.

But he did confirm that White House Down might simply be Die Hard in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

The character ['s John Cale] is a carbon copy of ’ wisecracking John McClane, right down to spending half the movie working up a sweat in a wife-beater. But it’s a snug fit for Tatum, who strikes the right balance between everyman screw-up and quick-thinking, fearless dynamo, equally determined to rescue his daughter and protect the President. And with its secret underground passageways, private chambers and antique-adorned public halls and offices, the White House is a worthy successor to Nakatomi Plaza, still the best of the Die Hard settings.

For the most part, however, it seems director can get away with this over-the-top bullets-and-bombs fest. He explains:

What the director lacks in finesse, he makes up for in his wholehearted embrace of Hollywood cliche, without the vulgarity or cynicism of, say, .

Variety's Scott Foundas reviewed similarly, explaining that White House Down will not offer anything particularly deep, meaningful or even logical. He explains:

Strict narrative logicians be forewarned: The cheerfully preposterous coincidences pile up in White House Down faster than the body count.

He continues:

Throughout, Emmerich harbors no greater goal than to keep the audience mindlessly entertained, at which he generally succeeds — so much so that one is compelled to overlook the niggling particulars...

He also makes a rather telling comparison with Olympus Has Fallen, suggesting White House Down might be a more watered down, but less abrasive, action movie:

Where Olympus Has Fallen weighed heavy with ra-ra jingoism, White House Down proffers a more innocent kind of Americana, up to and including a climactic setpiece that tips its hat, without a lick of irony, to the War of 1812.

For Alan Scherstuhl of Village Voice, all this exaggeration just added up to more hilarity. He suggests:

Anyway, if a stupid moment has turned up in too many movies, it's here, too, only funnier.

Although, Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News is slightly less encouraging to the ridiculous nature of White House Down. Awarding only 2 stars out of 5, he even suggests Olympus Has Fallen might have been better:

It’s also much too much, especially after the similar (and, in retrospect, better) Olympus Has Fallen.

And concludes:

Perhaps afraid that watching a symbol of liberty repeatedly go boom isn't enough, Emmerich and screenwriter James Vanderbilt add family drama, an attack on Congress, a plane crash and the possible nuking of the Middle East. What isn’t tonally jarring ends up shatteringly inept.

So, it seems White House Down is a bit of a mixed bag. This is certainly reflected by its fairly impotent Metacritic score of 58. Ultimately, if you like over-the-top action comedies you'll probably look beyond the ridiculousness and see a good, fun movie. If you can't let those kind of movie cliches past, then you probably won't. As Alan Scherstuhl explains:

Often, the hilarity is indisputably intentional. If you think you'll laugh and clap, try it; if you know you'll hate it, you're right.

White House Down enters theaters on June 28th. What do you think? Is this your kind of movie, or have these reviews persuaded you otherwise? Let us know below.


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