A weak script, uneven casting, plot holes, and a PC-skewed viewpoint mark this entry as mostly inferior to its very similar predecessor Olympus Has Fallen.
As the pic opens, young Emily Cale (Joey King) observes helicopters flying over her home in Washington, DC. One of the choppers contains President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) and Special Agent Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), making their way back to the White House. However, they must first buzz the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial, since Sawyer is quite taken with Abraham Lincoln.
Emily’s father John (Channing Tatum) is a U.S. Capitol officer detailed to Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson (Richard Jenkins). John, though, would much rather be a Secret Service agent, and has arranged an interview with Finnerty that very day. What’s more, since he is on the outs with his daughter—now living with his estranged wife—he scores some White House passes and brings president/White House obsessed Emily with him to the interview.
With Emily waiting for a White House tour to begin, John goes into the interview, and there it’s revealed that beyond his multiple military deployments, his work record has been anything but exemplary. Finnerty says, sorry, but she’s not interested. Telling Emily he may have a shot at the Secret Service job, they go on the White House tour, led by Donnie (Nicolas Wright).
About the time that you’ve grown tired of super-gunner—not to mention obnoxious—Emily answering every single one of the questions Donnie puts to the tour group, all Hell breaks loose, and there is a large explosion in the Capitol building. That, of course, is merely a diversion, which allows a group of mercenaries headed by Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke) to take over the White House, killing nearly every officer defending the facility.
In addition, they take the 30 or so unarmed people remaining in the White House hostage. As luck would have it, though, Emily does not get nabbed, at least right away, since she was in the bathroom, and John escapes from the baddies, while grabbing a gun. Emily is able to capture some video of the perps on her phone, which will later appear on TV.
Meanwhile, the president has supposedly been led off to safety, but let’s just say…not really. Cale will eventually rescue him from his captors, but the duo still needs to find Emily, and prevent further disasters.
***SPOILERS AND OTHER COMMENTS***
Tatum is convincing enough as an action hero, but there is zero chemistry between him and Foxx—and that’s bad news since much of the plot involves their “buddy” relationship. To make matters worse, Foxx is far from believable as a president. Heck, you get the impression that helmer Roland Emmerich is well aware of this, and is playing it partially for laughs.
It is most unlikely that such a small number of people would be in the White House on a weekday, but since this “Washington DC” movie was mostly filmed in Montreal, all bets are off.
Did we really need that bit about “Get your hands off my Jordans” (as voiced by President Sawyer)? Talk about silly product placement.
The notion that we would withdraw all military force from the Middle East, based on promises from a suddenly peaceful Iran, beggars the imagination. So does the idea that a conspiracy of the “Military/Industrial complex,” aided and abetted by numerous mercenary dupes with their own agendas, would promote such devastation.
Plot holes abound, but much of the action depends on the baddies being able to bring literally tons of weapons into the White House, including guns that can effectively repel a full-scale assault by attack helicopters. And, don’t even get me started on the hacker hired by the perps, who has some sort of magic decoding tool that can break into top secret military computers. Assuming a type of “brute force” password-breaking method were in place, it would still take days, and not minutes to get in.