The timing of “White House Down” is really unfortunate.
“Olympus Has Fallen” was released three months ago with the same
plot: a bunch of heavily-armed
gunmen take over the White House. The difference is that instead of foreign
terrorists, this time the threat is from within.
It seems that the Head of the Secret Service (played by James Woods)
and the Speaker of the House (played by Richard Jenkins) are in cahoots to
bring down the Presidency. They
are apparently displeased with the politics of President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx),
who is trying to withdraw troops from the
, and in general reduce the American military.
So they recruit a bunch of malcontents---neo-Nazis, ex-covert
operatives who’ve been canned, anarchists, and other right-wingers, to not
only forcibly take over the White House, but also eliminate the President and
Vice President, so the Speaker can become the President.
The action hero here is Channing Tatum, who plays Cale, a discharged
Afghan vet, also divorced, who’s currently jobless, but was taking his
daughter on a White House tour when all Hades broke loose, and he becomes our
last best hope to get in the way of the terrorists and foil their dastardly
plot. Oh, and along the way, he
and the beleaguered Pres. become sort of bunker buddies, complete with light
Are there overtones to the current political situation?
Of course. It’s the
radical tea party unleashed, and you could even interpret the movie as a kind
of propaganda against the far right, but really, the preferable thing is to
just accept it as the popcorn movie that it is, enjoy the action sequences,
and try not to think too much.
The same would hold true for the other Buddy Movie, “The Heat,”
starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Bullock
plays the uptight FBI agent, and McCarthy the loosey-goosey local cop, and
they have a sort of Odd Couple repartee going as an overlay to the buddy cop
genre. They are both going after
the same drug gang, and they really don’t want to work together, but
circumstances dictate that they do, anyway.
What follows is a lot of raunchy dialogue, but no sex, no nudity, and
no romance, either: just the two of them trading barbs and insults until they
actually start liking each other, while the viewers develop their affections,
In both movies, the bad guys are stopped and the good guys (and gals)
become heroes. In both movies,
it’s really about the repartee on the run:
Foxx and Tatum, or Bullock and McCarthy.
The bad guys are menacing at first, but in the end, are shallow
caricatures. We’re not
interested in them, anyway. We
just want to listen to the buddies play off each other’s energies.
One’s a drama and one’s a comedy, but it’s still all about the
sudden friendship, and how it can happen in very unlikely places.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St.
Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,