Thursday, January 18, 2018
Things To Do

Review: 'White House Down' too much of nothing

By Steve Persall

Times Movie Critic

White House Down is nearly enough fun to be a bad movie that's a good time. But it always finds some way of being a drag, belching exposition and weak humor when action's all we need, then carrying the action to exhausting lengths. Borrowing from Jamie Foxx's YouTube riff about his co-star's name, it has too much Channing on its Tatum.

Directed by Roland Emmerich with a typical lack of nuance, White House Down is too much of not enough, showcasing action that's the same old bombs-and-bullets routine only more, which doesn't make it better. The gunfire is triggered by a political conspiracy plotted from civics lessons, populated by characters whose backstories are over-shared to the brink of who cares? Just pull the pin, already.

When it works, Emmerich's movie is Die Hard With an Executive Order, down to the sleeveless T worn by Tatum in his sweatiest moments as U.S. Capitol cop John Cale, who was turned down by the Secret Service but should be re-evaluated after the end credits. Cale and his recalcitrant yet bright daughter Emily (Joey King) are caught in the crossfire when terrorists occupy the White House.

Foxx plays the president in White House Down like a Republican nightmare, with egregious breaches of national security under his nose and Air Jordans on his feet. James Sawyer is a compassionate man with swagger, obvious from the intro when ordering his chopper convoy to buzz the Lincoln Memorial for a personal affirmation moment. Through the movie's slow buildup we learn President Sawyer's agenda: feed the poor, end all wars and leave good photo ops.

It's the second goal getting Sawyer in trouble, when the mean ol' military industrial complex begins a coup that nobody at the Pentagon appears to have gotten the memo about. Janitors and home theater repairmen sneak bombs and overkill artillery into the White House and Capitol, with global conflagration in mind. There's an implausible mastermind with stretched reasoning for carrying a patriotic grudge, but James Woods is involved, so you buy into it.

What's a dazzling pacifist like Sawyer supposed to do? Pick up the nearest automatic weapon or rocket launcher and go ballistic, assured by action movie logic that he won't need to reload. He already has a pimped-out ride for the occasion, a supremely armored limo capable of absorbing bullets like love bugs and taking a Bandit dive into a pool. That's a nifty sequence, fresh in comparison to Emmerich's shootouts, tripwire explosions and airborne escapades.

It's too bad the bromantic chemistry developed between Tatum and Foxx during filming doesn't come through on screen. Foxx's casting won't avoid Obama comparisons so he plays the role close to his vest, without irreverence, because that could be seen as disrespectful, but the result is too presidential. For all his climbing, sliding and shooting, the character doesn't loosen up much, although you sense the actor wants to. Tatum is game for a wink-and-shoot party but the real Foxx can't come out to play.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

     
   
Comments
You can buy the balls from Amalie’s Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

You can buy the balls from Amalie’s Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

More than 100,000 people showed up at Amalie Arena in 2016 to frolic in a huge ball pit. It was a sea of 1.2 million white orbs so vast that grown men could belly flop and remain afloat. Almost two years after the Beach Tampa packed up, some 15,000 l...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Extraordinary heroism deserves a less ordinary movie than ‘12 Strong’

Extraordinary heroism deserves a less ordinary movie than ‘12 Strong’

After 16 years of combat and counting, the war in Afghanistan gets a happy movie ending in 12 Strong, a thick slice of patriot porn.Based on a true story, 12 Strong rightfully celebrates the first U.S. Special Forces unit battling Taliban forces shel...
Published: 01/18/18
Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

ST. PETERSBURGAn air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated the...
Published: 01/18/18
Overtourism and safety cited in Fodor’s where-not-to-go list

Overtourism and safety cited in Fodor’s where-not-to-go list

As you contemplate all those "where to go in 2018" lists, here’s a twist: a list of places to avoid in the new year. The where not to go list is from Fodor’s, the travel guidebook publisher. Fodor’s "no list" includes places plagued by overtourism an...
Published: 01/18/18
Review: Tim Dorsey’s ‘The Pope of Palm Beach’ reveals a sweeter side of Serge Storms

Review: Tim Dorsey’s ‘The Pope of Palm Beach’ reveals a sweeter side of Serge Storms

It’s an odd thing to say about a book in the Serge Storms series, but The Pope of Palm Beach is really kind of sweet.Serge might not want to hear that. He does, after all, kill people, in highly creative ways, when he’s not in manic pursuit of his pa...
Published: 01/18/18

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballMurray State at Belmont7 p.m.ESPNUJacksonville State at Morehead State7 p.m.CBSSNWomen: Florida at Arkansas7 p.m.SECWomen: Tennessee at Notre Dame7 p.m.ESPNMinnesota at Maryland8:30 p.m.FS1UNC Asheville at Winthrop9 p.m.ESPNUSt...
Updated: 11 hours ago
‘The X-Files’ Season 11, Episode 3: 18 things we learned in ‘Plus One’

‘The X-Files’ Season 11, Episode 3: 18 things we learned in ‘Plus One’

The X-Files delights in keeping viewers on their toes, asking dozens of questions and only half-answering half … only to turn around a few episodes (or seasons) later and challenge those same notions. Herewith is a list of things we learned in ...
Published: 01/17/18
Shake Shack, Momofuku and more: Please come to Tampa Bay

Shake Shack, Momofuku and more: Please come to Tampa Bay

Fabio is coming! Not the Fabio on your romance novel, with the billowing hair and large quantities of artificial butter. This Fabio, in all likelihood, uses real butter. And olive oil. Fabio Viviani, the charming Top Chef alum known for appearances...
Published: 01/17/18
Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

LA SEGUNDAA Tampa Bay giant has stirred and is on the move. La Segunda Central Bakery, a family-owned Ybor City institution for nearly 103 years (they celebrated that birthday Jan. 15) and the largest producer of Cuban bread in the world, will open a...
Published: 01/17/18
SoundBytes: Black Angels, Black Lips, Carbon Leaf, Ripe and more

SoundBytes: Black Angels, Black Lips, Carbon Leaf, Ripe and more

— Psych-rockers the Black Angels, above, and Black Lips are teaming up for a spring tour that'll hit the State Theatre on April 18. Click here for details.— Nathaniel Rateliff and the  Night Sweats are coming to Jannus Live on May 5 ...
Published: 01/17/18