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White House Down

White House Down
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Produced by Roland Emmerich
Bradley J. Fischer
Harald Kloser
James Vanderbilt
Larry Franco
Laeta Kalogridis
Written by James Vanderbilt
Starring Channing Tatum
Jamie Foxx
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Jason Clarke
Richard Jenkins
James Woods
Music by Harald Kloser
Thomas Wanker
Cinematography Anna Foerster
Edited by Adam Wolfe
Centropolis Entertainment
Mythology Entertainment
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • June 26, 2013 (2013-06-26) (Indonesia)
  • June 28, 2013 (2013-06-28) (United States)
Running time 131 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[2]
Box office $205.4 million[2]

White House Down is a 2013 American political action-thriller film directed by Roland Emmerich about an assault on the White House by a paramilitary group and the Capitol Police Officer who tries to stop them. The film's screenplay is by James Vanderbilt, and it stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, with Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Jason Clarke and Richard Jenkins in supporting roles. The film was released on June 28, 2013 and has since grossed more than $205 million worldwide.[2] White House Down is one of two films released in 2013 that deals with a terrorist attack on the White House, the other being Olympus Has Fallen.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Release 4
    • Home media 4.1
  • Reception 5
    • Critical response 5.1
    • Box office 5.2
  • See also 6
  • Notes and references 7
  • External links 8


John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a United States Capitol Police officer and former U.S. Army soldier assigned to Speaker of the House of Representatives Eli Raphelson (Richard Jenkins) after Cale saved Raphelson's nephew's life during a tour in Afghanistan. Cale is struggling to develop a better relationship with his daughter Emily (Joey King), who has a strong enthusiasm for politics. She became angry when Cale failed to attend her school talent show due to an unexpected delay on his work shift. He hopes to impress her by getting a job with the Secret Service, but the interview is conducted by Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a former college acquaintance of his who believes that he is unqualified. After Cale lies to Emily about the outcome of the interview, the two join a tour of the White House. At the same time, United States President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) proposes a controversial peace treaty between allied countries to remove military forces from the Middle East.

Meanwhile, a man disguised as a janitor detonates a bomb at the center of the United States Capitol, causing the collapse of the building's dome. Raphelson – who was in the Capitol but is uninjured – and Finnerty are taken to a secure command center underneath The Pentagon while Vice President Alvin Hammond (Michael Murphy) is taken aboard Air Force One. The White House is put on lockdown, separating Cale from Emily (who had left the tour group to use the restroom). Meanwhile, terrorists led by Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke) start killing off most of the Secret Service and take the tour group hostage, but Cale manages to take a gun from one of Stenz's henchmen named Ritter (Andreas Aspergis) and escapes to go and find his daughter. Meanwhile, retiring Head of the Presidential Detail Martin Walker (James Woods) escorts President Sawyer and his detail to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. Once Sawyer gains access, Walker kills everyone else in Sawyer's detail, revealing himself to be the leader of the attack; he wants revenge for his son, who was killed during a botched black ops mission. Cale, who fails to find Emily, uses his radio from Ritter to locate and rescue the President.

Walker and Stenz bring in Skip Tyler (Jimmi Simpson) to hack into the defense system, but they still require Sawyer to activate the nuclear football. Emily, while hiding, records a video of the mercenaries and uploads it to YouTube before eventually being captured by Carl Killick (Kevin Rankin), one of the terrorists. Walker demands $400 million from the Federal Reserve as ransom for the hostages. Cale and Sawyer manage to contact the Pentagon, and Finnerty tells Cale to get Sawyer out through a series of secret underground tunnels. Finnerty then uses Emily's video to discover the mercenaries' identities, realizing that they used to work for various government agencies and radical political groups. They are informed that Stenz, a former Delta Force and Central Intelligence Agency operative, was disavowed and burned on mission, leading to his capture by the Taliban making his involvement one of retribution. They also discover that Walker has a brain tumor which occasionally causes mental breakdowns, suggesting his involvement to be a suicide mission and not for ransom. Cale and Sawyer find the tunnel gate rigged with an explosive and are forced to escape in a presidential limousine. After a car chase with Stenz on the White House lawn, Cale and Sawyer are flipped into the White House pool after Cale gets distracted by the sight of Killick holding Emily at gunpoint. A gunfight erupts which results in an explosion that leaves Sawyer and Cale presumed dead. Aboard Air Force One, Hammond is sworn in as President.

When Cale and Sawyer reveal they are still alive, they learn Hammond has approved an aerial incursion by Delta Force to take back the White House. Knowing the hijackers have Javelin surface-to-air missiles, Cale tries but fails to stop the hijackers from shooting down the helicopters. Cale gets into a fight with Stenz and ends up dropping his White House passes for himself and Emily while escaping. Having already learned of Emily from the video, Stenz, knowing that she is Cale's daughter, takes her to Walker in the Oval Office. Meanwhile, Tyler finishes the upload to NORAD and launches a missile at Air Force One, killing everyone on board, including Hammond. Raphelson is then sworn in as President and, in a last ditch effort to end the crisis, orders an air strike on the White House.

Walker tells Cale over the White House intercom to surrender Sawyer or he will shoot Emily. Sawyer ultimately surrenders himself to save Emily, knowing Cale could still save them both if he were free. Holding the pair in the Oval Office, Walker reveals to Sawyer that his motive for the attack was to convey a message of American power. Because of Sawyer's dislike of military force, as well as backing out of the mission that killed his son, Walker had grown to believe Sawyer was too weak to be President; by launching a nuclear attack on Iran, Walker had hoped to regain international respect for America and avenge his own personal loss. He asks for Sawyer to activate the nuclear football, but Sawyer refuses. When Walker again threatens to shoot Emily, Sawyer still declines, explaining to Emily that lots of people will die, which she understands. Just as Walker is about to pull the trigger, the alarms and sprinklers are activated by Cale setting fire to the Lincoln Bedroom. In the chaos, Tyler tries to escape, but encounters the tunnel gate bomb. When he tries to deactivate it, it detonates instead, killing him. Killick finds Cale and tries to kill him, but is ambushed by Donnie Donaldson, the White House tour guide (Nicolas Wright), who bludgeons Killick to death with a clock. After freeing the hostages and trusting Donnie to get them out safely, Cale battles Stenz and ultimately kills him with a grenade belt.

Using the explosion to catch him off guard, Sawyer attacks a distracted Walker, but Walker gains the upper hand and forces Sawyer to activate the football before apparently shooting him dead. Using updated launch codes from an anonymous source, Walker targets various cities in Iran, but before he can initiate the launch, Cale smashes through the wall of the Oval Office with a presidential SUV, and kills Walker with the SUV's minigun. Emily learns of the air strike, and she takes a presidential flag and waves it on the front lawn, prompting the pilots to call off the attack. Meanwhile, Sawyer reveals himself to be alive since the bullet that hit him had been stopped by a pocket watch given to him by his wife (Garcelle Beauvais). Finnerty calls them to reveal that the hijackers were not hired by Walker, and that there is another person behind the attack. Cale realizes who it is and asks Sawyer for his help in exposing the person.

Later, Finnerty arrives at the White House with Raphelson. When Cale tells them Sawyer was killed, Raphelson orders troops to be placed back into the Middle East, which would go against Sawyer's peace treaty. Cale then grills Raphelson about how he conspired with Walker to orchestrate the attack, which he then proves by having Finnerty dial the call-back number on Walker's pager, the source of the updated launch codes. Sawyer arrives and has Raphelson taken into custody, treating his taking of the Presidency as a coup d'état. Sawyer then officially makes Cale a Secret Service Special Agent, and takes him and Emily on an aerial tour of Washington, D.C. on his way to the hospital. Realizing an increased need for peace due to the day's events, the presidents of Iran, Russia, Israel, and France agree to sign Sawyer's peace treaty.



White House Down is directed by Roland Emmerich and based on a screenplay by James Vanderbilt, who is also one of the film's producers. Sony Pictures purchased Vanderbilt's spec script in March 2012 for $3 million, in what The Hollywood Reporter called "one of the biggest spec sales in quite a while". The journal said the script was similar "tonally and thematically" to the films Die Hard and Air Force One.[14] In the following April, Sony hired Roland Emmerich as director.[15] Emmerich began filming in July 2012 at the La Cité Du Cinéma in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[16] Cinematographer Anna Foerster shot the film with Arri Alexa Plus digital cameras.[17]

In 2012, Sony competed with Millennium Films, who were producing Olympus Has Fallen (also about a takeover of the White House) to complete casting and to begin filming.[18]


White House Down was originally scheduled for a November 1, 2013[19] release, but was moved up to a June 28, 2013 release.

Home media

White House Down was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on November 5, 2013.[20]


Critical response

White House Down has received mixed reviews from mainstream critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 50% based on 179 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.5/10 and the site's consensus states: "White House Down benefits from the leads' chemistry, but director Roland Emmerich smothers the film with narrative clichés and choppily edited action."[21] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from professional critics, the film received an average score of 52 based on 43 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[22]

Roth Cornet of IGN gives it a 6.5/10, concluding: "White House Down is a pretty silly rehashing of previously tread action movie territory, but if you're willing to laugh along with (or even at) it, it can be a highly entertaining experience."[23]

Andrew Chan of the Film Critics Circle of Australia writes, "I am not entirely sure, whether I should be happy or sad that I laughed when someone got shot or bombed, but such is the manner of how the film is played out. Therefore, I prefer Olympus for this one."[24]

Richard Roeper, however, gave the film an F, stating that "Everyone in "White House Down" is an idiot, clinically insane, a cliché, or a vehicle for shameless exploitation." He later named it the worst film of 2013.[25]

Box office

On its first weekend in the U.S., the film disappointed and came in at number 4 at the box office. It earned $24,852,258, slightly ahead of Man of Steel, but less than March's similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen ($30.4 M).[26] On its third weekend, the film made $20.7 million.[27] The film grossed $73,103,784 in the United States, plus $132,262,953 internationally for a combined gross of $205,366,737.[2]

In October 2013, Sony announced it lost $197 million for June, July, and August 2013, and largely blamed "the box office flop of the movie White House Down as a key reason for the weakness".[28]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ (12A)"WHITE HOUSE DOWN".  
  2. ^ a b c d "White House Down (2013)".  
  3. ^ Kit, Borys (May 14, 2012). "'"Channing Tatum in Talks to Star in 'White House Down.  
  4. ^ Sneider, Jeff; Kroll, Justin (June 6, 2012). "'"Foxx nominated for 'White House Down.  
  5. ^ Sneider, Jeff (July 24, 2012). "Joey King 'Down' to play Tatum's daughter".  
  6. ^ Sneider, Jeff; Kroll, Justin (June 7, 2012). "Maggie Gyllenhaal joins 'White House' staff".  
  7. ^ Patten, Dominic (August 2, 2012). "Roland Emmerich's ‘White House Down’ Adds Jason Clarke To Cast".  
  8. ^ Sneider, Jeff; Kroll, Justin (July 16, 2012). "'"Richard Jenkins joins 'White House Down.  
  9. ^ Kroll, Justin (July 9, 2012). "'"James Woods in talks for 'White House Down.  
  10. ^ Patten, Dominic (August 9, 2012). White House Down" Adds Michael Murphy""".  
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (September 24, 2012). "'"Twilight Actress Joins 'White House Down,' 'Homefront.  
  12. ^ Sneider, Jeff (August 3, 2012). White House Down' elects Lance Reddick"'".  
  13. ^ Kit, Borys (August 10, 2012). "'"Garcelle Beauvais Joins 'White House Down.  
  14. ^ Kit, Borys (March 30, 2012). "Sony Plunking Down $3 Million for 'White House Down' by James Vanderbilt".  
  15. ^ Fleming, Mike (April 2, 2012). "'"Roland Emmerich in Talks to Helm $3 Million Sony Spec 'White House Down.  
  16. ^ Kelly, Brendan (July 17, 2012). "Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and James Woods coming to town to shoot White House Down".  
  17. ^ Goldman, Michael (July 1, 2013). "Prime Target".  
  18. ^ Kit, Borys (April 10, 2012). "Antoine Fuqua Circling 'Olympus' as White House Thriller Race Heats Up".  
  19. ^ McClintock, Pamela (August 6, 2012). "Sony Moving 'White House Down' to Heart of Summer 2013".  
  20. ^ Rawden, Jessica (September 3, 2013). "White House Down Will Hit Blu-ray And DVD In November". cinemablend. Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  21. ^ "White House Down".  
  22. ^ "White House Down".  
  23. ^ Roth Cornet. "White House Down".  
  24. ^ Andrew Chan (29 August 2013). "White House Down". [HK Neo Reviews]. 
  25. ^ "White House Down Review". Retrieved May 5, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Olympus Has Fallen (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for June 28–30, 2013". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
  28. ^ Pfanner, Eric (October 31, 2013). "Sony Blames Box-Office Trouble for Its Quarterly Loss".  

External links

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