I’ve never seen an Aaron Eckhart performance I didn’t like. Even in a movie like Battle: Los Angeles. He made that movie watchable. And how great was he as Two-Face in The Dark Knight?
He just doesn’t have the right look for a President. Morgan Freeman would’ve worked (he’s the Speaker of the House). I could’ve seen Dylan McDermott as President (he’s Secret Service). I think even Angela Bassett would’ve been an interesting President (she’s the Director of the Secret Service).
That square jaw of Eckhart’s, and him boxing in the White House, just wasn’t working for me as presidential material. Oh, and Ashley Judd is the First Lady.
I watched it warily. The commercials made it look like just another cookie-cutter action picture. There were explosions, helicopter crashes (with Gerald Butler avoiding a huge blade coming at him), shootings, and of course, the dirty and ripped apart flag blowing away in the wind. When I found out the director was Antoine Fuqua, I cringed. He’s the one that did the over-the-top Training Day. I didn’t care for that, and I’ve yet to meet anybody else that dislikes it.
Well, Fuqua surprised me with this movie. That doesn’t mean it’s not without it’s flaws.
The movie is rather violent, but that’s why it’s rated R. I am guess that the victims and families that suffered through 9/11 aren’t going to care for how some of the movie was shot. I know a few critics that thought it was rather insensitive of filmmakers to do Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which dealt with a father stuck in the WorldTradeCenter and leaving messages on the phone for his family. When you see the WashingtonMonument toppled by an airplane wing, it’s perhaps a bit too soon.
Gerard Butler (also the producer) is Secret Service Agent Mike Banning. A prophetic name, considering one detail goes wrong and has him banned from working with the President. He’s now stuck at a desk job. I immediately rolled my eyes, thinking of how Clint Eastwood blew his chance at saving the President, until the end of In the Line of Fire.
Despite the fact that Banning was good at his job, and the President’s son (Finley Jacobsen) loved him, he ends up pushing paper for the Treasury Department.
A plane shows up in unauthorized air space, shoots down a jet, and shoots up the Mall in D.C.
The North Koreans have planned this out, with lots of ground troops helping to shoot the guards and taking over the White House.
There’s a bunker that the President gets to, along with the Secretary of Defense (the always great Melissa Leo), as well as the Vice President, and a few other government employees that would be wearing the red shirts if it was a Star Trek movie and the Enterprise was taken over by aliens shooting lasers at everyone.
Terrorist Kang (Rick Yune) is a believable villain, and it’s interesting watching him work. He wants to start World War III, if he could just get the three codes he needs to take over the computer system. Hmmm…I’d type in the Presidents birthday and sons name. Kang opts for torture. I’d be a horrible terrorist.
Sometimes it’s more interesting when a World War might start and you just have a handful of people on edge (done well in the submarine movie Crimson Tide, not so well in the recent submarine movie Phantom). Although having more people involved means we get to see Morgan Freeman become the acting President.
Bassett always pulls off the no-nonsense roles well, and can seem realistically worried with just subtle expressions on her face.
I was pleasantly surprised that General Edward Clegg was played by Robert Forster, an actor that we’re seeing more of thanks to Quentin Tarantino casting him out of obscurity for Jackie Brown 15 years ago.
Perhaps the only person happy about this attack on the White House is Agent Banning. If all goes well, he’ll save the world and his old job.
He’s able to make his way inside, establish communication, and take out some terrorists. He finds a picture of the Presidents son on a terrorist, and the plot thickens.
As cheesy as all that sounds, it actually worked and is fun to watch once he starts using all his Steven Segal skills on everyone.
I thought the CGI was used nicely, and many of the action scenes were done well and choreographed nicely. To put into perspective how well they recreated stuff, they built a replica White House, almost the same size, in Louisiana. Since it was thoroughly destroyed, I doubt the residents will be able to take pictures of it the way people did the boat from Titanic in Mexico.
You’ll hear a few lines spewed from Butler that make you think of Bruce Willis or Schwarzenegger. That’s to be expected with a film like this.
There was a side plot with Agent Banning (I keep accidentally typing that as “Annette Bening”) and his wife, who was bothered early on that he’s so obsessed with his old job. There’s one phone call they have that is utterly ridiculous. Again, the movie has a handful of unrealistic scenarios, but not enough to ruin it. As far as action pictures go, you could do a lot worse (that’s the type of ringing endorsement they should put on the movie poster).
Since the Academy Awards are still fresh in our memory, here’s a fun fact: this movie has two Oscar winners, and three other Oscar nominees.
None will be nominated for this.
I’m giving it 2 ½ stars out of 5.