As the requisite kid, Joey King acts suitably in peril, especially in the inevitable scene where the chief bad guy comes to the sudden realization that he has within his evil clutches the daughter of the elusive cop who is picking off his henchmen one by one. It happens, I would swear, to the very corresponding second in Die Hard when Alan Rickman realizes Bruce Willis' wife, Bonnie Bedelia, is one of his hostages.
Recite along with me the next line the hero hears: "I have someone here who has something to say to you!"
Such predictability is, oddly, one of White House Down's appeals. We've been down this debris-littered road so many times before it is, in a way, positively comforting. I mean, you tell me: When the president proudly shows off his vintage Abraham Lincoln pocket watch in an early scene, then theatrically tucks it into the breast pocket over his heart, don't you think maybe that might become important later on? During a gun battle, perhaps?
I'm reminded of the old miracle plays of the Middle Ages: Everyone in town knew every line, every plot point by heart. Yet they flocked to see those plays and remained enthralled by them, year after year.
In addition to the buddy-movie chemistry, the chief thrills in White House Down come in watching things get broken, notably the White House and Capitol dome.
It just so happened that on the same day I previewed White House Down I attended the opening of a delightful new art exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery in downtown D.C. called "The Alien's Guide to the Ruins of Washington, D.C."
British artist Ellen Harvey imagines future space aliens using Earth — long since devoid of human occupants — as a tourist destination, picking among the crumbled remains of the U.S. capital the same way we wander around Rome's Forum or Athens' Acropolis. She's even printed up a map of D.C.'s "ruins," which is being distributed to tourists at local hotels all summer.
Also opening: Peter Fonda in Copperhead
"Seeing D.C. in ruins is nothing new for people today," says Harvey. "They've seen it destroyed over and over again in movies like Independence Day and Olympus Has Fallen. We know what those buildings mean, but in the exhibit the aliens try to interpret them, and they get it all wrong."
White House Down likewise trades on our fascination with destruction. Unlike Harvey's aliens, though, the movie gets an awful lot right.
Also of Interest
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