Warning: I am going to spoil this movie. If you plan on watching it (which I do not recommend) watch it before you read this.
When I watch a movie, whether streaming, on DVD or in the theater, I just want to be entertained. Movies are a way for me to enjoy myself for a couple hours. Unless the movie is a political satire (such as the parody of Sarah Palin that was obvious in the trailer for Iron Sky) I do not need to get a sermon. This is where White House Down falls flat.
To be fair, White House Down is the movie that Olympus Has Fallen was trying to be. OHF sets the stage for a grand political conspiracy and then falls into becoming a Die Hard clone. WHD at least provides an explanation for how all of this is happening that is plausible enough to suspend disbelief if you do not think about it too much. The problem is that the movie is ridiculously partisan.
I knew from the trailer that this movie would be a love letter to Barack Obama, with the energetic young black President (James Sawyer) showing how awesome he is by using a rocket launcher and so forth. I did not expect it to be so openly partisan. I was surprised this was PG-13 and not R, because of the level of violence and the language, including Sawyer/Obama dropping the F-Bomb.
The villains, of course, are a who’s who of boogeymen to the Left. Evil corporations that do not want to lose defense contracts (think Halliburton) are angry with Obama/Sawyer for an unprecedented peace deal in the Middle East that results in pulling U.S. troops out of the region. A secret service agent bitter over the death of his son in a raid on terrorists works with the evil corporations and some white supremacists (naturally) to take down the President.
They also have another powerful man on the inside: Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson, an obvious stand-in for John Boehner. He warns Obama/Sawyer that he cannot support the President’s brave peace plan because he needs the campaign contributions from defense contractors. Raphelson/Boehner becomes President when Obama/Sawyer and the Vice President have been presumed dead (Obama/Sawyer was not dead, though the V.P. was) and Raphelson/Boehner immediately moves to expand U.S. military presence in the Middle East.
Of course, Obama/Sawyer and Cale defeat the terrorists and Obama/Sawyer exposes Raphelson/Boehner as being behind the whole plot – something that Obama/Sawyer figured out on his own, because Obama/Sawyer is so far ahead of anyone else that we cannot comprehend his brilliance. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.
Once I saw who directed this, I was not surprised. The director is Roland Emmerich, who also brought us a two hour long sermon about protecting the environment disguised as a cool disaster movie.
The movie itself was watchable and enjoyable, but the political nonsense ruined it. Had the propaganda been removed (or at least minimized) this would have been so much better. If you want to show Obama/Sawyer is cool and can handle a rocket launcher, fine. The other stuff was completely unnecessary and comes off as more of a campaign commercial than as a popcorn movie with lots of gunfire and explosions.
Final Grade: F