Okay, this is the fourth day in a row I've said this. Pre-orders are now open for The Body Politic! And with that reminder out of the way, here is a rather late movie review...
As I was pulling into the Cinemark parking lot to see White House Down I was running through possible thrash-phrases. "This is like Saturday Night Live doing Die Hard featuring an Obama impersonator" was the one I figured I'd end up going with. I expected to despise the film, deeply.
Hardly fair, but prejudice (meaning "pre-judging things with little or no information") is a real time-saver sometimes. It's why humans are programmed to do it. In this case, I was wrong.
That thrash-phrase fit the trailers, but it was not a good description of the movie I saw. The film certainly had plot holes, "it doesn't work that way" holes, and a conspiracy-theory whopper which, when you really think about it, is pretty horrific (not to mention insulting to a number of my friends,) but the film was so well made, so tightly packaged that I was able to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
I won't go into detail, especially since I'm writing this four days after seeing the film and have forgotten a lot of the specifics. Summing up: in the construction of a story there are "beats" you need to hit fairly precisely for maximum effect, and this film hit those beats. I suspect that watching the film while deconstructing it against an outline for story structure would be a great exercise for writers of numerous stripes.
Why did it tank at the box office? I would like to blame Olympus Has Fallen, which was very similar (both films are "Die Hard in the White House -- Save the President") but was miserable to sit through. After my Olympus Is Awful experience I only went to see White House Down because I was looking forward to thrashing and trashing the creative output of hundreds of skilled and talented film industry professionals. Also, I'm a horrible person. A horrible person who is putting White House Down above the Threshold of Awesome this year.