What happens when you mix “Independence Day” with “Die Hard”? You get “White House Down” starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Fox. Though the new action thriller, helmed by Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day”, “2012”) doesn’t really tread new ground, it offers enough thrills and chills to give you a break from the summer heat.
Dejected after being turned down for a position with the Secret Service but unable to break the news to his adoring daughter, Capitol policeman John Cale (Tatum) is taking her on a tour of the White House when a powerful explosion rips through the building, sparking mass chaos. When the smoke clears, Cale learns that heavily armed rebels have taken both his daughter (the resilient Joey King) and the president (Jamie Foxx) hostage. As news of the attack creates mass panic and fear of total collapse, Cale realizes that the fate of his daughter, the Commander in Chief, and the entire nation rests in his willingness to fight back against the heavily armed paramilitary group that have brought the most powerful nation on the planet to its knees.
Tatum assumes the flavor-of-the-month, action star position with ease, deftly going from concerned father, to full blown action hero, complete with sleeveless muscle t-shirt (think “Die Hard” lite) and the acting president, Jamie Foxx nails the bad-ass commander-in-chief role like his reelection is a lock.
“White House Down” is a solid, if slight action film, but its predictability keeps it from greatness. The problem is Emmerich is trodding his own familiar turf, without improvement. The film cries out for the patriotic, rebel rousing speech the President (Bill Pullman) delivered in “Independence Day” or the shot of cigar smoking Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum emerging from the desert haze.
The Bottom Line: It’s a traditional summer action flick – not Shakespeare – so you know what to expect. If you aren’t a huge Channing Tatum fan, you may want to stay home and watch “Independence Day,” it’s guaranteed to be on TV around the 4th. Think twice before bringing the grandkids – it’s long on violence and time.
2 hours, 17 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image.)