Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
You've got to give the Chutzpah Award to director Roland Emmerich. In his action thriller "White House Down" he's competing not just with the recent similarly themed "Olympus Has Fallen," but himself: How to trump your own signature scene in "Independence Day", a film in which an alien spaceship wipes out the home of the U.S. President? Breaking out of the apocalyptic mode he's known for, including destruction by climate change in "The Day After Tomorrow," and in "2012," he goes with shameless but clever self-homage. Early into "White House Down," right around the time the Capitol building is destroyed, a voice is heard: "Just like in 'Independence Day.'"
In "White House Down," Channing Tatum plays John Cale, a Capitol Hill police officer, Afghanistan vet and divorcé. He can't make the grade of security guard for the President because he was a bit of a slacker, as his Secret Service interviewer (Maggie Gyllenhaal) reminds him. So it's a sad moment when he has to pick up his waiting daughter Emily (Joey King). Skipping over the bad news, he instead offers a White House tour. Suddenly a paramilitary force commandeers the place and threatens to start World War III. Wrong place, right time for Cale, as he becomes the de facto presidential protector after all, though in the extreme straddle position of having to cover the President and rescue Emily when she is taken hostage.
Regret is a great motivator. I'd like to have one of these guilt-driven security guys protecting me: Clint Eastwood in "In The Line of Fire" (1993) who failed to save the life of John F. Kennedy; "Olympus Has Fallen" bodyguard (Gerard Butler), who did rescue the president, but not the first lady; Channing Tatum specifically, for every "Sexiest Man Alive" reason, plus his dance-trained agility and his desire to impress and bond with his estranged daughter.
In other near-clone comparisons, you can't help but think the "Die Hard" franchise, with its alienated kids (as in the latest "Die Hard," Emily even calls her father John for a while before breaking through to "Dad.") The "Die Hard" franchise has so run its course that the only real pleasure left is finding out how much punishment McClane can take. Cale doesn't get as brutalized by battle as John McClane, though he takes many knocks.