A little while ago I reviewed the 2013 Gerard Butler starring Olympus Has Fallen (read about it here) a variation on the Die Hard formula but rather than set in the Nakatomi Plaza Building, our hero has to deal with deadly terrorists that have assaulted the White House itself. I enjoyed the film, finding it a pleasant enough time killer despite some pretty silly stuff to swallow if not much else. Lurking in the weeds, waiting to be seen, was the second Die-Hard-in-the-White-House film of this year, the higher budgeted Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx White House Down.
A few quick questions and answers:
1) How similar are these two films?
Answer: Very. Both feature leads who are “damaged” (again, a Die Hard trademark). Both feature (duh) assaults on the White House with the people behind these assaults seeking to get their hands on the President of the United States and radically change the world as we know it today (I won’t say more to avoid spoilers). The heroes in both films also have kids (in one film a boy, in another a girl) who are caught in the middle of all this danger. Bullets are fired and the bad guys (including an “inside man”) manage to barricade themselves in the White House with the hero plays cat-and-mouse with the villains and is the only one capable of restoring any kind of order.
2) How are the films different?
Let me think here…hmmm….Well, in Olympus Has Fallen the President is played by Aaron Eckhart emulating your typical blue-eyed square-jawed all-American Anglo Saxon Commander In Chief while in White House Down the President is played by Jamie Foxx who is clearly emulating President Barack Obama, complete with wife and daughter (one, not two) and a fight against a cigarette habit.
What else? As mentioned before, Olympus Has Fallen was a far lower budgeted affair compared to White House Down. Further, there was more going on in White House Down’s script, both in terms of story and ancillary characters, than the previous film.
And that, I believe, is about it for the differences.
So let’s return once again to the films’ similarities. White House Down, like Olympus Has Fallen, is a perfectly OK action/adventure film that succeeds in killing your time without causing you too much pain or regret. Having now seen both films, however, I can sincerely state that I no longer want to see either again. The fact is that both White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen are very much disposable entertainment. Once seen, I seriously doubt that some time in the near or far future I’m ever going to want to revisit either of these films.
Having said that, one final question: Which is better? I’d probably have to give a very slight edge to White House Down. That film benefits from its larger budget as well as the slightly better script and a slightly more interesting cast of characters around the hero/President.
Still, I’ve reached my lifetime quota of White House assault films.