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White House Down Recalls Explosive Action Flicks of the '90s

The '90s make a comeback in this explosive White House-hatin' action movie
by Anton D. Umali | Jul 2, 2013
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Those old enough to appreciate the grungy tunes of Nirvana, have (or had) girlfriends obsessed with Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, and/or are fans of local barkada television shows like Gimik and TGIS will probably appreciate the high-octane efforts of action flick White House Down. A throwback to ’90s action (you know, over the top, but grounded in reality, with a central character who's flawed but at the same time can do no wrong), the movie stars Channing Tatum as John Cale, a Capitol Officer and aspiring Secret Service agent, who barrels through the White House after terrorists infiltrate the famous structure.

              Channing Tatum plays the role of John Cale who has a fondness for high-caliber weaponry

The lives of his daughter Emily (Joey King) and President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) are threatened, and as America’s future is at stake, the Chan-man must use muscle and heavy artillery to protect both country and those dearest to his heart.

Watching the explosion porn unfold is not unlike your run-of-the-mill box office action flick, and this is what juices up the strength of White House Down. Director Roland Emmerich is best known for grandiose action movies like Independence Day (he seems to love blowing up the White House), Godzilla, and The Day After Tomorrow. And despite the inexplicable occurrences in WHD, he displays a restraint in terms of sequences; a significant car chase involving a rocket launcher being the only real standout in this sea of punches, gunfire, and bullet wounds.

       The movie however displayed zero restraint in showing off Tatum's broad shoulders and arms

There’s a slight allusion to Die Hard’s John McClane: the dirtied mank-top, toppling a building of baddies solo, and the uncanny ability to survive all this unscathed. Of course he doesn’t scream, “Yippiekiyay, motherfuckers!” while he does it, but Tatum’s Cale gets his own witty banters throughout the film, both with his daughter and the President.

Another 90s element of the movie, is that the antagonists aren’t the stereotypical terrorists that mainstream media has made the masses familiar with. The infidels are American, angry at their commander’s decision of pulling out of the war in the Middle East. The politics is very reminiscent of ’90s action gems like The Rock and In the Line of Fire, where the enemies were not from foreign soil, but rather subversive settlers of the homeland.  

                         And windows. Them evil, plotting windows that need to be taught a lesson

Channing Tatum plays to his strengths in spite of a strong supporting cast. He has been carving out an “it boy” status for himself by taking on a variety of roles that highlight his capabilities as an actor. In the last two years he has been a stripper (Magic Mike), dedicated lover (The Vow), comical undercover cop (21 Jump Street), and murder victim (Side Effects). Beside the likes of powerhouse Jamie Foxx, he is able to hold his own and provide entertainment that feeds on the shallow yet unpretentious need of popcorn moviegoers.

                                  Tatum barely survived that morning's explosive trip to the toilet.

The thing most audiences will relish about WHD is the fact that it remembers that action movies are supposed to be fun. There’s no misplaced grit or intention of delving into the dark psychology of its characters. Instead, it allows the audience to be part of the siege courtesy of one man without a plan. And when he finally tries to save the day, it’s sure to make sure you’re on his side all the way.

White House Down is rated PG-13 and will open across the country on July 3.

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