Capitol Policeman John Cale (Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it's up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country.
Now this is what we want in a President of the United States: wisdom, humor, and the ability to wield a rocket launcher while hanging out of a limousine traveling at high speed. Welcome to the giddy world of White House Down, Roland Emmerich's absurd but hugely enjoyable thriller, in which President Jamie Foxx and other members of the government are taken hostage in a nefarious plot. Only security guy Channing Tatum, who happens to be on the White House tour with his daughter while the assault happens, stands in the way of disaster. Emmerich's weakness for glib one-liners coming right after mass destruction remains intact, and this movie is not great art. But it's genuinely suspenseful for much of its 130-minute running time, and Foxx and Tatum appear to be having good fun. The rest of the cast is impressively credentialed, too, including Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Woods as Secret Service veterans and Richard Jenkins as the Speaker of the House. Released a few months after Olympus Has Fallen, a film with a very similar plot, White House Down didn't connect with audiences. But it's the better movie of the two, a popcorn-muncher if ever there was one. --Robert Horton