Excesses compromise taut thriller


TATUM. Too much of a roller-coaster ride.

Nothing less than the chilling prospect of the president of the United States being seized and spirited away as a key political hostage and pawn is the brazen theme and plot point of the current film, Roland Emmerich’s “White House Down.”

The president, played by Jamie Foxx, is coopted by no less than his security chief (James Woods), who bears a grudge against the entire nation he’s sworn to serve and defend, because his only son was killed in battle in the Middle East.

That’s the first key plot point that the viewer has to accept and process—and, it’s no easy task! But, it turns out that the monumental scheme to bring down the US government is aided and abetted by other traitors, some of them much higher-ranking officials than the president’s security head!

Those cumulative acts of high and low treason are difficult to take, especially for American viewers, because they reveal shocking cracks and schisms in the nation’s top leadership structure itself!

It is at this point that the addled viewer has to remind himself that the film is a work of fiction—and prays that its dire events will never be affirmed in actuality!

That major “believability” stumbling block apart, the first half of “White House Down” is chillingly effective as it credibly unspools a complex web of subvert actions that result in the US president finding himself trapped and held at the mercy of traitors whose loyalty he once implicitly presumed.


The only fly in his captors’ ointment is the unexpected presence at the White House of a law enforcement officer (Channing Tatum) who turns out to be the beleaguered chief executive’s only defender and hope for survival!

In true movie hero fashion, Tatum’s character wages a veritable one-man war against an army of terrorists—with the occasional help of the president himself!

The early action scenes are so well-executed that the viewer is caught up in their frenetic unction, and hopes against hope that Tatum’s solitary rescue attempt will prove successful.

Unfortunately, the film’s second half falls apart, because the production gets carried away and thinks up too many wild and woolly complications that distend the movie’s otherwise believable story, and make its upbeat ending a most improbable outcome.

The first flaky fillip is the undue importance given to Tatum’s adolescent daughter, who is made to perform heroic tasks much too incredible for words. Next, the scenario’s main nemesis is made too powerful with the inclusion of other improbably brilliant minions, like a computer wiz who speedily hacks the White House’s “brain trust” for top security defense codes that will assure global domination for the bad guys!

The production makes all these complex events unreel in a blithely facile way, so we know that we’re being led through the nose—and end up resenting the crass manipulation.

Other improbable developments ensue, like the trapped president being officially replaced by his second in command—and the new president being supplanted by a third— before he’s given his just desserts and Foxx’s character finally comes into his own again!

It’s too much of a roller-coaster ride for viewers, who throw in the towel long before the film gasps its last, hyperventilating breath.

Despite these and other excesses, however, the viewers are grateful for the film’s excitingly taut first half, and for its chillingly effective depiction of a White House disintegrating under attack.

—If only the production had stopped embellishing its tall tale while the telling was good!

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  • andresa igbac

    well, channing tatum took over where bruce willis left off. (or has bruce left off na nga ba?) anyway, i enjoyed the movie more than ironman. maybe cuz i see more humans. though i think both films have equal number of violent scenes. i also like the scene where the girl waves the flag that aborts the strike mission. overall i like the movie, maybe cuz of the hi-tech gadgetry on display heheh. and some suspense involved. a welcome respite from the nightly sigawan on the boob tube teleseryes.

    • alchemist00

      ok na sana sentences mo except for “cuz” word.

  • Nic Legaspi

    Most of the paragraphs in this article end with an exclamation mark. The author must be truly excited.

  • Eric Socrates

    i guess the film’s excesses could actually be conservative, if ever a real White House take over happens. one should see ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, shown a month ago. that one is overrun with overkill and overload. i enjoyed both ‘invasion’ movies.

  • JamesJ

    this is better than “Olympus Has Fallen” & I disagree with Nestor Torre the way he see the whole movie. how many action movies have you seen so far Mr. Torre?

    • Twister12

      Olympus has fallen is way way better than this. Even the gates receipts will prove that.

  • wanluna

    Hollywood is cost cutting with 2 different titled movie, but with a similar plot and definitely same studio and props. imagine the amount of money to blow up a replica of the white house?…why not just make two movies out of it hehehe. nice idea eh

  • crisostomo_ibarra_the3rd

    The movie sequence is all too predictable. Nothing stands out. Its a movie you will forget as soon as you leave the theatre.

  • bangopuwet

    Nestor Torre is a has been in film critiquing. He has no right to analyze and much more, to criticize American films because he is not an American. He should concentrate only on local films. It makes me puke when one tries to act as a film critic not in his own domain but of all people, the American domain. Mr. Torre is not credible as a critic of American films, period!

  • spider69

    I do not like Channing Tatum. de numero ang kilos. mayabang pag ini interview. I only watch him once hindi ko pa tinapos ang GI Joe Rise of Cobra. He is too far to like Mark Walberg, Leonardo Dicaprio, & the like.

  • spider69

    for sure I will not watch this movie even I like Jamie Foxx.

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