White House Down (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 27, 2013 by  

“White House Down” is an exciting, popcorn action film.  Roland Emmerich is great at creating huge action films and this one is no exception.  Featuring a strong cast and an entertaining storyline, despite for its storyline shortcomings, fans of Emmerich’s previous action films will no doubt be entertained by “White House Down”.  

Images courtesy of © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: White House Down

DURATION: 132 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin Simplified and Mandarin Traditional), French, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Some Material May be Inappropriate to Children Under 13)

RELEASE DATE: November 5, 2013

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Written by James Vanderbilt

Produced by Roland Emmerich, Brad Fischer, Larry J. Franco, Laeta Kalogridis, Harald Kloser, James Vanderbilt

Co-Producer: Volker Engel, Marc Weigert

Executive Producer: Reid Carolin, ute Emmerich, Channing Tatum

Music by Harald Kloser, Thomas Wanker

Cinematography by Anna Foerster

Edited by Adam Wolfe

Casting by John Pasidera

Production Design by Kirk M. Petrucelli

Set Decoration by Marie-Soleil Denomme, Paul Hotte, David Laramy

Costume Design by Lisa Christl


Channing Tatum as Cale

Jamie Foxx as President Sawyer

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Finnerty

Jason Clarke as Stenz

Richard Jenkins as Raphelson

Joey King as Emily

James Woods as Walker

James Woods as Walker

Nicolas Wright as the Donnie the Guide

Jimmi Simpson as Tyler

Michael Murphy as Vice President Hammond

Rachelle Lefevre as Melanie

Lance Reddick as General Caulfield

Matt Craven as Agent Kellerman

Jake Weber as Agent Hope

Peter Jacobson as Wallace

Barbara Williams as Muriel Walker

Kevin Rankin as Killick

Garcell Beauvais as Alison Sawyer

Falk Hentschel as Motts

Romano Orzari as Mulcahy

Jackie Geary as Jenna

Andrew Simms as Roger Skinner

Vincent Leclerc as Agent Todd

Capitol Policeman John Cale (Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, during which the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. Co-starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins and James Woods.


From Roland Emmerich, the director of “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Independence Day”, “Godzilla” and “2012” comes his latest action thriller “White House Down”.

Written by James Vanderbilt (“The Amazing Spider-Man”, “Zodiac”, “The Rundown”), the film would star Channing Tatum (“21 Jump Street”, “White House Down”, “Magic Mike”), Jamie Foxx (“Django Unchained”, “Law Abiding Citizen”, “Collateral”, “Ray”), Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Dark Knight”, “Donnie Darko”, “Secretary”), Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”, “Lawless”, “Public Enemies”, “Gatsby”), Richard Jenkins (“Jack Reacher”, “The Cabin in the Woods”, “Step Brothers”), Joey King (“Oz the Great and Powerful”, “The Dark Knight Rises”) and James Woods (“Videodrome”, “Casino”, “The Virgin Suicides”).

The film would earn over $200 million in the in box office and in Nov. 2013, “White House Down” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“White House Down” revolves around John Cale (portrayed by Channing Tatum), a man working as a Capitol Hill police officer for Raphelson (portrayed by Richard Jenkins) and his security detail.  A former serviceman and also a divorced husband, it’s his week to take care of his daughter Emily (portrayed by Joey King).

Cale is often not in his daughter’s life because of his previous stint in the military and now with his new job but for the day, he wants to surprise her to a trip to the White House, the same day he is to apply for a job in Secret Service for the President of the United States.

He knows that Emily is a big fan of the President of the United States and is obsessed with details of the President and the White House and runs a YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to President Sawyer (portrayed by Jamie Foxx), who is trying to get his peace plan pushed and work with the Middle East.

As Cale applies for the job, he finds out that the person interviewing him is an old high school flame, Finnerty (portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal) and because of his lack of education, she doesn’t feel that Cale is suitable for the job.

We are introduced to Walker (portrayed by James Woods), the head of the secret service detail for the President and a man who is retiring.  He tells Finnerty to go home and rest, while he enjoys his final day at the White House.

While Cale and Emily are on a White House tour, Emily goes to the bathroom.   Meanwhile, a group of terrorists are seen as a group working on the White House. They set off a bomb which destroys part of the White House and kills many people in the process.  In the confusion, while some of the high ranking cabinet members escape, including the Vice President.

As Emily is about to leave the bathroom, she sees the terrorists unmasked and begins taking video with her camera and hides behind a curtain.

As Walker escorts the President to his bunker, Walker reveals himself as a traitor and begins to shoot everyone inside the bunker.  As for Cale, the terrorist try to enter the area where the tour group is located and Cale manages to escape.  As he tries to find his daughter, he manages to take out one of the terrorist and takes his weapon.  In the process, he saw Walker escorting the President to the bunker and manages to rescue the President Sawyer from Walker.

As the two hide outside an elevator shaft, they both find out that the head of the terrorist group, Stenz (portrayed by Jason Clarke) is working with Walker and that both men are wanting revenge against the President.  He has given the orders to find the President and keep him alive.  But when Stenz finds out that Cale took out of his best men, he makes it a mission to find Cale and kill him.

So, the terrorist try to look for both President Sawyer and Cale, but can Cale keep the President protected and find his daughter before they find her?



“White House Down” is presented in 2:40:1 anamorphic widescreen. It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray version is the way to go.

While the DVD version looks good, the audio is quite active thanks to its English, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.  Great use of the surround channels as you can hear bullets zipping, explosions galore and also crowd ambiance as well.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin Simplified and Mandarin Traditional), French, Korean, Malay, Portuguese and Spanish.


“White House Down” comes with the following special features:

  • A Dynamic Duo – (4:10) How Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx got along perfectly well on the set and had great working chemistry, and how they were able to do some improvisation and play off each other.
  • Men Of Action – (3:44) A featurette of the stunt coordination of the film.
  • – (5:09) The cast and crew discuss working with Roland Emmerich.
  • Meet The Insiders – (5:14) Writer James Vanderbilt talks about the cast and also featuring the cast talking about their character role.


“White House Down” comes with an UltraViolet code for one to access a Digital Copy for their table or cell phone.


It’s interesting to see two films in 2013 that deals with the White House being attacked by terrorists.

The first was “Olympus Has Fallen” and now, the release of “White House Down”. Both having their own similarities but with the former being much more violent and dealing with a foreign terrorist, an American traitor while trying to save a child, the latter having a bit more humor, dealing with American terrorists, an American traitor and also trying to save a child.

Both films have received mixed reviews, both were expensive to make and made more than what the film was budgeted for, which is good.

Taking a look at “White House Down”, one of the biggest appeals to the film is you have two popular stars such as Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx and when you have a filmmaker such as Roland Emmerich involved, suffice to say, you’re going to have a lot of CG of destruction and a lot of action.

And I felt that “White House Down” delivers!

The film establishes the character of John Cale as a Capitol Hill officer, former veteran, a single father who is divorced and wanting to spend time with a daughter he never had much time to be with.  There relationship is somewhat strained and his daughter Emily tends to make an emphasis each time she calls him “John” but also having President Wallace as her hero, not her father.

Suffice to say that Channing Tatum has come a long way as an action hero.  From “G.I. Joe” to “21 Jump Street” and now “White House Down”, we have seen how far this young actor has come and for the most part, for an action film, his role as John Cale is his best action role yet.  In fact, as what Bruce Willis has done for John McClane, I can see future possibilities for John Cale.  Because if Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer can save the White House in “24” and go on to take part in many other heroic campaigns, with Tatum’s popularity and potential popularity of his character, it can happen.

But then again, Roland Emmerich films have not yet received any sequels (but his future work “ID Forever” which is currently in pre-production, will).

As for Jamie Foxx, one may see his role as a President a bit of a surprise.  Mainly because so many are used to watching the comedian and singer in other type of roles but yet, Foxx has shown amazing potential as a serious actor since the 2004 film “Ray”.  And the fact that Foxx has begun playing roles that people tend to not picture him in, may it be as President of the United States or next year’s film as Electro in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”.

As President Sawyer, Foxx does a very good job of dialing the humor in, fighting when he has too but also being a courageous character wanting to protect the country.  But in Jamie Foxx fashion, also expecting an “F-bomb” once in awhile.  Emmerich allowed moments of improvisation between Tatum and Foxx and because both men were able to click with each other as actors and the chemistry worked between both, it helped make the film a bit more entertaining to watch.

The film also has a strong supporting cast with Maggie Gyllenhaal as Finnerty, a woman who communicates with Cale during the entire film but also an intelligent woman who senses there is more to the situation, than the traitor being Secret Service head, Walker, a character which James Wood manages to play with efficacy.

But aside from Tatum and Foxx, the next actor who gets plenty of screen time is young actress Joey King as John Cale’s daughter, Emily.

Where in “Olympus Has Fallen”, the child is a young son of the President and his fear is justified, the character of Emily is a White House erudite.  She knows about the tunnels, many facts about the White House that even her father is surprised.  But while Emily also shows fear to what she has seen, it’s one of the few times where you see a child also so brave as she uses her cell phone to capture video of the terrorist and upload it to YouTube.

But when confronted by terrorists she is a child that is not afraid to tell the terrorists how she feels.  The young actress definitely has a character role that is not only sassy but also heroic.

While I did enjoy “White House Down”, there were several things that made me roll my eyes.  For one, a terrorist attack would not allow military or police to have civilians crowding in front of the White House.  I can see the streets blocked for a mile away to prevent civilians from getting close to the White House.

Another issue and a personal peeve are the driving moments between Cale and Emily and the usual, I’m not watching the road, I keep looking at the person in the passenger seat for a little too long in traffic.

And the ending had a bit too much bravado with situations that are a bit farfetched.

But this is a Roland Emmerich film, you are used to seeing the impossible happen and the craziest things happen in his popcorn action films.  So, I guess it’s best to say that we are used to it by now.

As for the DVD, as mentioned, for those wanting the best PQ and AQ, the Blu-ray is the way to go.  But the DVD does look good, its audio is its best point as the many action scenes utilize the surround channels quite well.  Although, I did feel the special features were too short.

Overall, “White House Down” is an exciting, popcorn action film.  Roland Emmerich is great at creating huge action films and this one is no exception.  Featuring a strong cast and an entertaining storyline, despite for its storyline shortcomings, fans of Emmerich’s previous action films will no doubt be entertained by “White House Down”.

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