White House Down (2013)

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Directed By: Roland Emmerich

Written By: James Vanderbilt

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal,  Joey King, James Woods, Jason Clarke, and Richard Jenkins

The White House is under attack. And no… It’s not Arabs, which the movie takes a couple pokes at. Readers might be thinking: Didn’t this movie come out in March? Well, yes it kind of did. The March release was Olympus Has Fallen, but the differences between the two do not outweigh the overwhelming similarities. Regardless of the remarkable similarities between the two, they are two of the action movies that Hollywood has thrown at us during the first half of this year. The premise does not need to stretch much beyond that; however, as the simple storyline is that a bunch of  (white) American haters have attacked the White House seeking revenge on the entire nation.

Writer James Vanderbilt (writer of The Amazing Spiderman) did one thing very right with White House Down, he did not allow the story to take itself too seriously. With a very touchy subject such as terrorism, it is very difficult to find a balance between what is acceptable and what is not. Many would argue that a movie that involves a terrorist attack on the president should never be made. This reviewer’s argument would be that it can be made, but only as long as it takes itself with a punch in the should now and again. The film is full of cheesy one-liners and unrealistic scenarios, which would be a flaw for most films, but it actually adds to the entertainment value of White House Down. The script even takes pokes at some classic White House legends, which is highly comical in and of itself. The unrealistic action scenes and the remarkably convenient timing also adds to the fun of the film. My hat goes off to Mr. Vanderbilt for taking a nearly impossible topic, and making it immensely entertaining.

Let's see how much fun the CGI guys over at Sony can have with this bad boy...

Let’s see how much fun the CGI guys over at Sony can have with this bad boy…

The key thing that viewers need to see with White House Down was that it was never trying to get your vote for best action story or most realistic action thriller. It knew its place, which was what I seemed to struggle with when I reviewed Fast & Furious 6 on Tuesday. I think some action movies try too hard to please everyone. White House Down knew what it was going for, and it achieved its goal quite well.

Director, Ronald Emmerich, does a great job of continuing James Vanderbilt’s vision. He crafts the action scenes, and leaves it to his visual effects buddies to make the magic happen. He takes a liberty in showing viewers the inside of the White House, while not allowing the artifacts to conflict with his vision.

White House Down might be the movie that officially establishes Channing Tatum as an A-Lister. His name is quickly going around worldwide, and I have to be honest in saying that he’s not half bad. Jamie Foxx is completely unconvincing as the leader of a nation, but he manages to have fun with his role. The villan’s are pretty spot on with their performances, and present a hatable very well.

Perhaps I’m being overly generous to White House Down because I walked into it, and expected the worst. I was genuinely entertained by an action movie with a decent length running time (131 min), and did not check my watch once.

Overall, viewers need to enter White House Down with one goal: to be entertained. If viewers begin to attempt to think through all the illogical plot point in the story, they will not have a good time. Take it for the fun ride that it is, and accept it for what it is. White House Down did all that I could have expected for a mid-summer release, but nothing more.

Rotten Tomatoes: 49%

Metacritic: 52/100

Best Picture Movie Reviews: 65/100

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

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Directed By: Justin Lin 

Written By: Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Luke Evans, and other various supporting actors

Well that was realistic…

They’re back and they’re the good guys. That’s right. Leave it to Hobbs (Johnson), a special forces cop, to get Toretto (Johnson) and his crew back to work. They are working to capture Shaw (Evans), a military-trained criminal, that is out to steal a chip that is capable of shutting down an entire country for 24 hours. This chip would be capable of essentially destroying that respective country. The stakes are high, the muscles are big, and the cars go fast.. What could go wrong, right?

To answer the previous question, a lot more than viewers would think. I’m struggling to tell the difference between action movies anymore. Just about everyone has begun to feel the same. Fast & Furious 6 is no exemption. The storyline is washed out and utterly disappointing. The attempt to differentiate itself by switching the setting (again) backfires on them (again). While I like watching big guys kick each others asses as much as everyone else, I can simply not get over the redundancy of the series.

The first Fast & Furious is a good-watch and one of the better action movies of 2001. The second, third, and fourth installments were very disappointing (especially three). I take my hat off to them for their perseverance for sticking with a series that had three consecutive disappointing efforts. Fast Five brought back viewers interest in the series. The Rio setting was appealing and people were  again drawn in by the badass thieves.

Unfortunately, the only aspect of the fast & furious series that was even somewhat original was removed in Fast & Furious 6. They are now the good guys. It’s human nature to want to be a badass, so when the protagonist(s) are bad guys, the movie instantly becomes more exhilarating. Take that aspect away, and it might as well be  Mission Impossible 5: Fast Cars.

The action scenes make no effort to be the slightest bit realistic. In fact, it is just the opposite: It is almost as if the writers made an effort to be unrealistic. I mean, didn’t we already see the ending of this movie in Toy Story? And Argo? In what would be taken by many as the most climatic scene, my theater began to laugh uncontrollably. The writing of the story is embarrassing and the directing could not save it. Just Lin’s direction is perfectly good. He does the best he could with what he had, but he didn’t have much.

The acting is typical action crap. Don’t Worry! Dwayne Johnson is just as awful at acting as he is at hiding his steroid use (nothing new). Paul Walker continues to do his best with a series that seems especially exhausted. Jordana Brewster is still a babe, but we don’t see her much in her relatively minor role. The acting is simply nothing to speak of.

Overall, Fast & Furious 6 can not successfully follow in Fast Five’s foot steps. Bad decisions with the characters mixed with general poor writing made the film just another mediocre summer action flick.

IMDb: 76/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 70/100

Metacritic: 61/100

Best Picture Movie Reviews: 63/100

Series Roundup: With every new addition, I like to rank every film in the series from Best to Worst:

1. Fast Five (2011)

2. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

3. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

4. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

5. Fast & Furious (2009)

6. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)