WHEN people ask me what is the worst film I’ve ever seen, you might expect trawling more than 10,000 titles through my brain to take some time.
Most fundamentally awful films have some redeeming feature. But answering the question is in fact a snap.
My worst film is “Independence Day”, directed by German-born Roland Emmerich in 1996. It’s mindless, packed with cliches, jingoism, contrived violence and a subterranean credibility level. The South African film “District 9” deals with a similar theme far better.
James Vanderbilt has given Emmerich a screenplay for “White House Down” that might have a possibility in reality. It proposes that a team of military veterans has evaded all the protective systems around the US President. As the film progresses, two reasons emerge. The front-line troops are rabid right-wingers for whom small-“l” liberal African-American President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) is a disaster in progress for the nation’s future. Their commander (that status takes time to emerge) is a highly-placed inside man seeking retribution for the death of his son in a botched clandestine security operation.
Arrayed against this danger is US Army veteran John Cale (Channing Tatum) anxious to join the Presidential Protection detail of the Secret Service. His marriage is busted, but he loves his daughter who’s a mine of White House trivia and overjoyed to have been given a pass to join a tour of the building. The full force of the US armed services may be outside the fence around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue but they can’t move in without Presidential approval.
Emmerich and a big special effects team make this plot work hard against some fundamental realities of American government and other implausibilities.
The 25th Amendment of the US Constitution becomes a major player. The attackers carry those marvellous Hollywood firearms that need no reloading. Cliches of the adventure genre get an airing that does the film little honour.
While “White House Down” doesn’t displace “Independence Day” on my list of unworthy movies, its actioner values are more ephemeral than rousing.
At Dendy, Hoyts and Limelight