Under the Radar

DC Burning in 'White House Down'

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White House Down had a hard time finding an audience in movie theaters and now it gets another shot at your attention with its home video release on Blu-ray combo pack, DVD and digital.

Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx star in this version of a "terrorists take over the White House movie." This time, a dying Secret Service officer collects a group of misfits identified as credible threats to the President and uses them to advance a plot to make the Speaker of the House the leader of the free world. And that conspiracy is funded by the arms manufacturers who oppose the President's efforts to disarm the Middle East.

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It's probably not a huge spoiler to learn that Tatum plays a veteran with a spotty record and that he saves President Foxx from the invaders shortly after getting rejected for a job with the Secret Service.  The whole thing plays like a 1992 Die Hard sequel that never got made and they just retooled it after President Obama took office.

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Director Roland Emmerich has blown up the White House before in Independence Day and he's still in love with his green screen special effects.  The bonus features make no secret of the fact that the entire movie was shot on sound stages and there are long green screen sequences in the movie that look like something from the late '80s .

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James Woods is the bad guy who wants revenge after his son is killed in action on a black ops mission authorized by the President. He's also dying of cancer. There's a lot of time spent with his terrorist crew, a group that includes a black hat hacker, some white supremacists and a Special Forces operative who was disavowed, then captured and tortured by the Taliban. 1183878 - WHITE HOUSE DOWN

Channing Tatum has to do a lot of divorced dad stuff with his sulky daughter before getting to kill the bad guys in the last reel.

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White House Down is a lot less serious than Olympus Has Fallen, 2013's other White House takeover movie. There's banter between the vet and the liberal(-ish) President and a lot less soulful reflection than Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart act their way through in Olympus.

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Here's what you get: a fake White House gets dismantled, practically piece-by-piece. The Capitol dome gets blown up in the first reel as a distraction. Air Force One goes down. All the bad guys die, except for the Speaker of the House. Channing Tatum gets a job in the end.

This one might look better on DVD than Blu-ray because the lower resolution makes the green screen work a little less obvious. There's a ton of Special Features if you want to learn about faking DC on a Canadian movie set.

There's probably a shorter, more light-hearted version of this movie that would work better but, if you think you're interested, White House Down is worth a couple of hours of your time.

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