Director: Roland Emmerich
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Channing Tatum plays hero-by-accident John McClane in the latest Die Hard flick, White House Down. Okay, maybe not technically, but the actor does play the nearest thing to Bruce Willis’ first signature movie role in the new action flick that ticks so many of the Die Hard boxes that it’s pretty much an unofficial sequel, right down to the enjoyably absurd premise, supercampy villains, cheerful mayhem and the hero spending lots of time wearing a wifebeater.
For the record, Tatum actually plays “John Cale,” a muscly, wisecracking ex-Marine and aspiring Secret Service agent forced to go proactive when, while touring the White House with his brainy 11-year-old daughter (Joey King, a standout), paramilitary dudes storm in to take down the U.S. President (Jamie Foxx). For two-plus hours of bombastically brainless, cheerfully goofy ’90s era–style fun, the Roland Emmerich–directed, James Vanderbilt–written action flick gives us Tatum and Foxx’s jokey buddy-buddying, Foxx letting loose with the jokes and a wicked rocket launcher, a high body count and outsized set pieces in which the national landmark–hating Emmerich and his special effects team lay waste to the U.S. Capitol building and big chunks of the White House.
Tatum easily wins us over with his galoot charm and impressive athletic moves, and obvious Obama substitute Foxx will have people cheering when he shucks his presidential reserve, steps into his favorite pair of Jordans and opens a can of whoop-ass. The strong cast also includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Lance Reddick, Garcelle Beauvais and Richard Jenkins, often spouting ludicrous dialogue with an admirable sense of gung-ho. At its cheesiest and when it drags on and on and on, White House Down plays almost as broadly as a Zucker brothers spoof. At its most check-your-brain-at-the-door enjoyable, it’s a giant slab of slick, silly summer stupid.