“John Cale” (Channing Tatum) is a veteran of Afghanistan where he saved the life of the son of the Speaker of the House, “Eli Raphaelson” (Richard Jenkins). As a result he now has a job with the Capitol Police, assigned to Raphaelson’s security detail. But what he really wants is to become a Secret Service agent.
He pulls some strings to get an interview and discovers that his old college classmate, “Carol Finnerty” (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is his primary interviewer. His records from college, the military and work history seem to indicate he would not be a good choice and she tells him he won’t be getting the job. That would be devastating news to his daughter, “Emily” (Joey King) who is obsessed with the White House and the presidency. So much so that he brought her along to the White House.
He tells her it looks like he’ll get the job and then they sneak onto a tour of the building that passes by them. “Donnie” (Nicholas Wright) is the tour guide and is surprised as Emily’s knowledge of the building’s history. An explosion at the Capitol Building frightens everyone and puts the White House into lockdown. It is actually a distraction to allow paramilitary types to take control of the White House. Led by “Stenz” (Jason Clarke) who got into the building as part of a work crew, they quickly kill most of the Secret Service detail. But they are unable to secure “President Sawyer” (Jamie Foxx).
John is separated from Emily when lockdown occurs because she’s gone to use the restroom. He makes a break and begins searching for her. After killing one of the mercenaries and taking his gun, he finds President Sawyer and takes on the responsibility of ensuring his safety. Now it’s a race against time as the invaders try to capture the President to complete their mission. But there’s more here than it seems at first glance. Are the men who took over the White House after money, power, revenge or what? And who is going to double-cross whom? When it is all sorted out, it’s not entirely clear but at that point who cares? You don’t go to action-adventure movies to see a great, well-explained plot. You go to see things go boom and people fight.
Now if White House Down sounds a lot like a movie that came out earlier this year, that’s because it IS a lot like that movie. White House Down is implausible, has a few technical errors and yet it’s the kind of movie where you sit back, relax and munch on your popcorn while enjoying the copious action on-screen.
Channing Tatum is not a great actor but as an action hero he’s more than adequate. His character has mad skills when it comes to fighting and killing the mercenaries. Jamie Foxx makes a fine president, carrying it off with aplomb and a nice mix of confidence and klutziness under fire. The action is frenetic and done well.