Tag: James Woods

White House Down

Some people enjoy eating competitions, fireworks, and BBQs for their Fourth of July celebrations. Not me. As a heavy movie consumer, I tend to spend a lot of time watching patriotic movies. You know which ones I am talking about. The kind that cause you to get out of your chair and start chanting U-S-A at the top of your lungs, or maybe even run down your street with an American flag (usually reserved for the Olympics). I am talking about the big heavy hitters, like Top GunRocky IV, The Mighty Ducks II, Red Dawn, and of course Independence Day.

Which is why I’m glad we have new movies coming out around the same time as the festivities, that only want to help us express that pride we have deep down inside ourselves. What is more patriotic than a movie involving an attack on the White House, by Americans, for Americans? My fellow Americans, I give you, White House Down (Trailer).

Guns Means Patriotism

The movie takes place in a time when America is dealing with a lot of conflict in the Middle East. AKA, modern day America. President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) wants to be a great man and known forever in history. He has decided to pull all of the troops out of the Middle East and also offer up a peace treaty for around twenty countries in that area. It is a pretty bold move that has a lot of people angry, including the vice president who will quit if it goes through.

John Cale (Channing Tatum) might not think too highly of the new order either, after all, he served three tours in Iraq/Afghanistan himself. But now he is back to living in DC, working as a body guard for the Speaker of the House (Richard Jenkins). His dream is to work for the secret service, the highest honor in the land, especially since his daughter Emily (Joey King) is obsessed with politics, and he wants to get back on her good graces.

But while on a tour at the White house (lead by Nicolas Wright), a bomb explodes on the Capital building, putting most of DC on lock down. Too bad a group of mercenaries have all infiltrated the White House to take the president prisoner. Why you might ask? Plenty of reasons, just pick one. Surely it isn’t just for money though. Either way, it is time for John Cale to prove himself capable of being a member of the Presidential Guard, or else there might not be a country to save.

We also have Maggie Gylenhaal as a head secret service agent, James Woods as the Head of the Presidential Detail, Jimmi Simpson as a big bad hacker, and Jason Clarke as a mad mad mercenary.

Yep. Everyone in this picture will kill someone by the movies end. For America.

I am not allowed to review White House Down without mentioning Olympus Has Fallen, which I loved. It had great action, it was tense, but it still had its weak moments. Olympus Has Fallen was a much more serious film, whereas White House Down is going for Action/Comedy and is much closer to being a Die Hard variant. It isn’t rated  but even the smallest details seem to be throw backs to Die Hard. Just look at Tatum himself. His garb mimics Bruce Willis in the first film, with the white tank top and ruffled hair as seen here.

Roland Emmerich is used to bigger disaster films, so I am surprised he was able to contain the destruction to basically only two buildings. Despite the small scale, I found myself at the edge of my seat as Tatum and Foxx were running around the White House trying to be action stars. Foxx’s character wasn’t as much of a bad ass, as he is the President, but he has a few moments.

But here is what I didn’t like. The run time is over two hours, far too long for this kind of movie. I think the main problem lies in the pre-explosion intro, which dragged on and on, trying to set up everyone’s story. None of the twists are really too surprising, as it fits a very common formula. I didn’t see the last twist coming, only because a twist there felt nonsensical. The final twist was also a bit rushed and a bit anti-climatic.

Regardless, I am willing to state that both White House invasion films from 2013 are probably worthy of a watch, at least once. This one has a limo chase seen on the presidential lawn, while Olympus Has Fallen has a limo fall into an icy river of death. The difference in limo usage probably highlights the main differences in the films. I wouldn’t describe this as a “dumber” version of OHF like other critics, but it definitely takes itself less seriously.

I am looking forward to 2014 when I get to see two versions of Hercules. (Hint: You can already tell which one will be better).


3 out of 4.

Straw Dogs

Hold your horses everyone. ANOTHER Hollywood remake!? For shame. After all, the first Straw Dogs is only 40 years old. It should still be fresh and in everyone’s minds. Clearly Hollywood is running out of ideas, if it has to remake something only 40 years old. The NEW Straw Dogs will automatically suck, by comparison. It has things like credit cards in it!

It is also full of thievery and shame.

The other option is to ignore all of that.

Done! James Marsden and Kate Bosworth are traveling down south to the town where Kate used to live. It is a smaller community, not all hustlin’ and bustlin’ like the big cities up north. Which is good! She has an old place there, and he needs a quiet place to write a screenplay. They also want the roof of the shed/barn thing repaired, for some reason (even if they are there temporarily). A friend of Kates, played by Alexander Skarsgård, and his posse, agree to fix the roof.

Then crazy shit happens. And by crazy, I mean subtle annoyances between the two groups. Coming too early to start work. Leaving too early. Coming too late. Drinking their beers. Playing loud music.

This also makes Kate and James argue. Because James is a pussy who hates confrontation, and Kate is running around braless and “asking for it”. Which just leads her to flash seductively the crew (and oh yeah, that guy is her former ex). As expected, this leads to further elevation of conflict. A dead cat, bizarre hunting antics, and a rape or two.

Flynn RApe
“Or two?! Let’s calm down here. I am a one and done kind of guy.” – Flynn

There is also a side story involving James Woods (a high school football coach), his cheerleading daughter, and Dominic Purcell who plays “local retarded boy”. She has taken a fancy to him, which Woods is sourly against. The two plot lines accumulate by the end, to create a standoff where James Marsden finally breaks, and protects his family at all costs.

So, a lot of this film had me cringing in my seat. The violence at the end, rape in the middle, a scene where bone was shown coming out of the arm. When the final final scene happened, which also happened in the original, I half expected to hear someone yell “FATALITY!”, it was that crazy.

Personally, the reason I can’t rate this higher is because I know I probably won’t ever watch this again. Although an enjoyable experience, I wouldn’t want to see it more than once, which is a weird feeling.

From what I can tell, the differences between the two movies are: Going down South instead of North, less boobs in the rape scene (despite the fact that her boobs are pretty much visible throughout with her clothing choices), the guy is a writer not a mathematician, the violence was upped a bit, and it ends sooner. The first is based on a book though (And this one is based off the movie). That should have been done, because changing medias is fine.

But remakes never. After all, The Wizard of Oz and Scarface were both remakes, and they failed horribly because of it.

Maybe the problem is that it is too similar to the original still, and thus doesn’t warrant being made. But, if it had a lot different, people would bitch about it not being Straw Dogs. Lose lose.

3 out of 4.