Today sees the release of Roland Emmerich's White House Down. And maybe you're rolling your eyes, since it's the second action movie this year about a White House under siege. Or perhaps you haven't forgiven the filmmaker for the mess that was Godzilla. But for me, Emmerich will always be the man who made Independence Day, a disaster movie by which all others must be measured for its sheer outlandishness and still dazzling action sequences. So, I have been looking forward to White House Down since it was announced, just a little over a year ago.
Last fall, I had the insane good fortune to visit the set of the Montreal production, where I met with some the crew, Emmerich and his star Channing Tatum. At the time, I was in awe of the sets that were being meticulously built to recreate the White House inside and out, and was practically salivating for the film's release. When I headed to the press screening earlier this week, I was dizzy with anticipation. And what I saw unfold that night absolutely demanded a GIF review.
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD
WARNING: Spoilers below.
There's a nearly tangible excitement in the audience as the opening credits unfurl. Thanks to a lengthy chat with production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli, my mind is racing with fun facts about what I'm seeing. For instance, these opening shots of the President flying back to the White House are all CGI. You can't tell, but you might figure considering only the president can fly this particular path.
There's definitely a bit of Barack Obama charm in Jamie Foxx's President Sawyer, but it's no impersonation. His is a president with swagger!
Introduce John Cale (Tatum), a former soldier current capital cop trying to reconnect with his estranged young daughter after years away on tour and a seemingly tricky divorce. Emily Cale (Joey King) idolizes not her dad, but President Sawyer. So, John tries to impress her with a surprise trip to the White House. To get it, he promises a date and some second-base action to the Vice President's Gal Friday (Jackie Geary). She is one smart lady.
Channing Tatum has crazy chemistry with everyone! Surly little girls. Rock star presidents. Even rebellious squirrels he threatens with handguns. That last one sounds like a kid's movie. Somewhere someone is drafting an outline for Nuts and Bolts, starring Channing Tatum as Officer John Bolts.
A tour guide (Nicolas Wright) sets up the geography of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (and plot points) efficiently, and with a sassy attitude that makes me hope he survives what we know is about to go down...
The Capitol's dome explodes and my blood runs cold. I thought in the wake of so much mindless collateral damage in movies of late ( Man of Steel cough cough) I was numb to it. Leave it to Emmerich to revive fear in my heart.
The White House is under attack and John Cale literally leaps into action to save his daughter and the president!