Making the Grades
What happens when a marketing team collaborates with a political agenda? Well you might get something like White House Down, a script that sacrifices intelligence and logic in favor of endless bullets and an equal onslaught of quotable quips suitable for Twitter fans to tweet.
The story’s pacifist president (Jamie Foxx)—a black president with a beautiful wife (Garcelle Beauvais) that looks remarkably like the First Lady Michelle Obama—is attempting to secure a peace settlement in the Middle East. But his efforts at ensuring his place in history are threatened by his political opponents and the necessity of allowing daytime television talk shows to broadcast from the White House grounds. With his wife in Europe doing her part to promote her husband’s plan, President James Sawyer prepares for another day of wrangling on Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile in the lower chambers of the White House, John Cale (Channing Tatum) has just been unceremoniously dismissed from his job interview with the Secret Service. With his 11-year-old daughter (Joey King) in tow, he reluctantly agrees to join a visitors’ tour of the building. That’s when the explosions begin in the historic edifice. Separated from his daughter during the mayhem, John makes a heroic escape from a group of heavily armed paramilitaries who have taken control of the White House. Although he doesn’t find his daughter, John stumbles upon the President and takes it upon himself to lead the country’s First Commander to safety.
For all the President’s talk about weapon reductions, it takes a bazillion rounds of ammunition to restore law and order in this high action drama. Before the intruders even make their way to the Oval Office, they’ve left carnage strewn everywhere across Capitol Hill. While most of the killings don’t depict bloody injuries, the sheer number is staggering. Not satisfied to merely shoot their victims at point blank range, some characters are riddled with bullets and one young girl is repeatedly threatened with a gun.
Figuring out the bad guys’ motivations quickly becomes secondary in this film that appears to be more interested in seeing how much damage it can do to the president’s official residence and the irreplaceable historic antiquities inside. Sexual content is limited to a brief thermal image of a couple in bed together, but the script is riddled with profanities (including a strong sexual expletive).
Regardless of political leanings, White House Down is the kind of summer blockbuster where you park your brain when you purchase your popcorn. Why? Because the plot holes and flawed logic in this film are big enough to fly Air Force One through. Even as the country reels from the threat of nuclear disaster, this president still takes a sightseeing tour of the Lincoln Memorial with his helicopter entourage. Only in Hollywood!
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about White House Down.
The movie’s makers encourage viewers to tweet their favorite movie line. Luckily the script is made up of easily quotable quips. How is the dialogue in this movie suitable for tweeters? What demographic group is this script aimed at? What other marketing ploys does the film use to attract young audience members?
How is decisive action by the U.S. government hampered by internal squabbling between departments such as the FBI, CIA and Secret Service?
How does this script use humor to ease the intensity of the action? Does it work?