I don’t know how it happens, but every now and then movies with a similar theme are released right after each other. In 1998 people could see two “giant asteroid heading for earth” movies: Deep Impact and Armageddon. Dreamworks and Pixar released two CG-animated bug movies the same year and later would both release a movie about fishes in the early 00’s. There’s even an entire wikipedia entry written on this particular “phenomenon”. After the release of Olympus Has Fallen earlier this year it’s now up to Channing Tatum to save the President from terrorists in the even similar titled Die Hard rip-off “White House Down”.
Normally I would now give you a synopsis of the plot, but I probably won’t have to since it’s Die Hard in the White House will suffice. Here’s a quick list: Channing Tatum is hero John Cale, Jamie Foxx is the president, James Woods is the main villain Martin Walker. Cale has a daughter Emily who of course at one point is discovered by the terrorists and used as bait. And there are some obligatory twists concerning the motives of the bad guys.
If there is something funny about White House Down it’s that it actually has a writer’s credit. All James Vanderbilt did was take the original Die Hard script, change some names, genders and locations and tadaaa: a brand new movie.
The elements lifted from Die Hard are too much to sum up, they even weren’t creative enough to give the lead character an original name. Instead of John McClane his name is now John Cale, instead of the estranged wife it’s now an estranged daughter, instead of Karl the name of the terrorist who takes it all personal is Stenz. The list goes on and on.
There is a famous quote which sums up White House Down quite neatly: Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal. The makers of White House Down clearly belong the the first category: the copiers. They never make the movie their own. This movie could just as well been made 20 years ago with a younger Bruce Willis in the lead being transferred from New York to Washington. It’s certainly not a bad movie, director Roland Emmerich is far too skilled to bring us some piece of crock, but it’s not a movie that elevates itself above average. It’s by the numbers, and while a fun and entertaining movie (I loved the Independence Day reference), completely interchangeable with all the other Die Hard rip-offs if it wasn’t for the special effects and the A-list actors.