Tuesday, August 27, 2013

White House Down Has Fallen

White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. Two very similar movies that came out around the same time. They both involve the white house being taken over by terrorists looking for the US Nuclear launch codes. So, let's discuss:

Olympus Has Fallen stars Aaron Eckhart as the president and Gerard Butler as his head of security. When a horrible accident occurs Butler is transferred to the Treasury Department. Eighteen months later Korean terrorists take over the white house via an air and ground assault and Butler's Mike Banning has to invade and take it back under the orders of Speaker of the House and acting president, Allan Trumbull played by Morgan Freeman.

On the other hand we have White House Down where we have a security guard for the Speaker of the House who is inside the white house with his daughter on a tour after having an interview for the secret service. During the tour, a repair crew pulls out weapons and takes over the white house. Tatum's security guard character rescues the president and saves the day.

So let's take a look and see how they stand up.
Plot: Olympus was pretty basic. We have the disgraced agent saving the day from Korean terrorists. White House Down had villains with a much more personal motivation and some complex twists. Tatum is a qualified candidate who just can't catch a break since he doesn't have the right degree, just the right experience. White House Down is borderline too much, but the fact that it's an inside job makes it a better choice than the cliche of Korean terrorists. Also, it's far more realistic that a few guys can take the White House from inside than a Korean bomber makes an unauthorized trip to it before being shot down.

Lead: I like Channing Tatum. I think he jokes too much to be a solid action star. Gerard Butler is as badass as it comes and his straight up action takes the cake. I get comic relief and it really helps a movie when done right. Tatum's character used jokes to lighten the mood whereas comedy inherent in the situations will always work better for me. Olympus had far fewer moments of comic relief and I enjoyed that a great deal more.

President: While Aaron Eckhart did a fantastic job as the caring President who held out on giving up the launch codes, Jamie Foxx actually had something to do and got to be a part of the action. The biggest problem I have with Foxx is that he manages to stick around the whole time when realistically he would be taken out of there at the first possible chance.

Other characters: Both movies had a child get stuck in the White House during the invasion. The use of Tatum's daughter felt as if its only purpose was to evoke emotion from the audience. I'm fine with that, except when it makes the story make less sense. Butler has to chase down the president's son and save him before worrying about the president in his safe room. Having it be the president's son is a lot better for me. The stakes of it being someone else's kid who he has a close relationship with makes the motivations more interesting than the following orders vs. following your heart conflict.

The Speaker of the House is played by Morgan Freeman and Richard Jenkins in Olympus and White House Down respectively. I think the twist in White House is contrived and not totally believable and of course Morgan Freeman is incredible. Especially since we got to see more of him and it was more of a realistic character.

To wrap up a post that could go on much longer were I to refresh my memories on these films, I liked Olympus Has Fallen much better. White House Down is not at all a bad movie, but the plots are far too similar not to compare. Olympus definitely felt like "Die Hard" in the White House, whereas Down felt closer to "Spy Hard" in the White House and seemed to make fun of itself more than it should have. I only wish that OHF had the invasion from WHD as then the arguments would be much more one sided.

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