White House Down – 2013
Director Roland Emmerich
Starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, James Woods, Joey King
Screenplay James Vanderbilt
Rule 604: Kids are convenient vehicles for jingoistic propaganda. Make it look like they still believe.
Rule 606: It also helps if the president looks at the capital scene with wide-eyed wonder.
Rule 607: Throwing out snippets to your woman head of security about Lincoln being the first president wanting to give women the vote shows us even more how much the president believes in women, if you didn’t already get that from her being the head of security.
Rule 609: Guy who talks about this being “the best job in the world” is likely not to make it through the first 1/3 of the movie.
Rule 612: Having news clips of the president speaking throughout the opening scenes is a cheap and easy way to get out exposition that will be casus belli later in the film.
Rule 614: The guy who is most vigilant in his first shot is our young, eager protagonist. The guy who sleeps under his watch is a buddy who most likely is going to let bad crap happen.
Rule 616: He who talks to squirrels is either daft or adorable.
Rule 617: Old wise guy who says “It’s going to be a busy morning, guys,” will be a good source later in the film.
Rule 618: If one hears a unique cell number early on, chances are its for a reason.
Rule 619: If the guy is old, worn down, looks at a picture of a younger man in uniform while getting ready for work and then tells his wife he is going to be late tonight isn’t planning on coming home. He’s pissed that his son died, and going to do something about it.
Rule 620: The guy shown doing something innocuous is almost never doing something innocuous.
Rule 621: If president is a good guy, his wife will be useful.
Rule 621: Hero must have estranged wife and kid. Ex-wife if he’s going to get a new relationship, like the young woman head of security, by the end of the film.
Rule 622: Skeptical estranged kid must call the hero by his first name to show disappointment in the state of their relationship.
Rule 623: This skepticism must be alleviated partially by tickets to some event he or she is really interested in. Not entirely, though.
Rule 625: Kid spouting useless facts at the early stages will be very useful later.
Rule 627: Whatever estranged parent tries to engage the kid in is passe, even if people still “call it blogging.”
Rule 630: Lack of respect for authority, raw potential and impulsiveness aren’t good in a job interview, but they are useful in an action film.
Rule 632: Being useful in an action movie is good for getting a job protecting the president.
Rule 635: There is always a complicated looking device at the bottom of a box, underneath stuff.
Rule 638: Briefing rooms for security on a “light” day seem more ominous if the room is darkened for no reason at all.
Rule 639: Make sure only the faces that have dialogue find light.
Rule 652: If you are planning to do some bad stuff, send the person that you like home early, so he or she survives the first wave.
Rule 653: Congratulatory celebration for guy in his last week at a job for the guy with the dead son means that most of the people celebrating for that guy won’t live to see his last work day.
Rule 655: Main bad guy always signs in right after the guy who is going to thwart him…who is the only one who notices him.
Rule 657: “That is an order,” is a nice way of saying, I liked you a lot, but I hope you survive my bad turn.
Rule 659: The guys fixing the personal theater of the president are up to no good, usually.
Rule 660: Hero lingers just a little to long when he is looking at the bad guy. This conveniently sets everyone on edge.
Rule 664: Wikileaks is always true, if they mention it in a movie. Except for the movie about Wikileaks.
Rule 665: The president won’t really answer the know it all kid’s wise question, but he will give her a shout out for her “You tube blog.”
Rule 667: Kid won’t be concerned that his answer to her question is, essentially, “Don’t Stop Believin'” because she loves the whole “White House” thing.
Rule 668: Kid must embarrass his dad, the hero, in front of the guy he will save later.
Rule 670: The real reason the guy will save the White House is because his kid is there. It’s not enough to save the president, apparently
Rule 672: It takes a movie president to upset the defense industry by exposing the truth behind the military industrial complex, using information obtained from the president of one of our enemy nations.
Rule 674: If the president in a movie is shown saying that “military bases are for show” now that we can use drones, and the actor playing him is referred to the current president (who is under heavy criticism for using drones) as our savior…it must mean drones are pretty good, right?
Rule 675: Bad things must always happen right after the dad and daughter are separated.
Rule 678: The main attack happens just after the building is placed on “full lockdown” right after the capitol building, which is always on full lockdown, has exploded to create a diversion.
Rule 679: The hero must be held back from getting things done by a guy who is a dumb jerk.
Rule 680: Dumb jerk must die minutes after his decision to keep the good guy from helping.
Rule 683: Hero must get walkie-talkie from the first bad guy he kills.
Rule 684: He also must taunt the dead guy because, you know, he’s pretty pissed.
Rule 686: If good guy rescues the president, we’ve got a buddy movie.
Rule 687: Only bad guys call the president “The Leader of The Free World.”
Rule 689: “There has got to be a bigger play,” is code for more bad guys.
Rule 690: There must always be a scene in an elevator shaft and also on top of the elevator.
Rule 691: Things must be learned on top of the elevator.
Rule 693: Hacking and theft must always be accompanied by a classical music score, a rolling chair and arms wide, proclaiming victory.
Rule 694: The bad guy who says “I heard something” is almost always ignored by another, dumber bad guy.
Rule 697: If the head of White House Security has a reason to be aggrieved, maybe we shouldn’t vet him at all or give him a psych eval.
Rule 698: The JFK / Marilyn cave can’t have any different name.
Rule 700: The president must awkwardly kill his first bad guy, then he can become Bruce Willis.
Rule 705: If bad guys throw fits occasionally, that means the good guys are really good.
Rule 706: Threats against little girls make the bad guy really bad.
Rule 755: There’s always another plan.
Rule 756: That plan will likely fail, like the FBI guys in Die Hard.
Rule 758: Crazy guy hostage holder with gun and wife beater survives just about everything, except for inevitability of the conclusion.
Rule 760: Bad guys always find the connection between the kid and hero just before they die.
Rule 770: Second guy in line to be president is usually honorable, and often doomed.
Rule 771: Briefcase including the secret launch codes is useless when the bad guys have control of the nukes.
Rule 772: “If you stay in there, you’re gonna die,” means that you are certainly going to stay in there and you are certainly going to live.
Rule 773: When the bad guy makes it personal with the hero, it’s the last thing the bad guy is going to do.
Rule 775: I did not sign up for this is code for “my character has no more use, exit stage left.”
Rule 777: Shooting a guy where he was pierced by glass kind of means he’s not hurt any more than he was before.
Rule 779: .50 Cal machine gun fire is an emphatic countdown stopper.
Rule 780: A little girl with a hard to read blue flag (with the presidential seal) should be enough to ward off 3 mach speed planes.
Rule 782: Most mothers wouldn’t let their daughter out of their sight after getting them back from a hostage situation, unless it’s the end of the movie.
Rule 783: If the hero gets a new girl, the ex-wife gets a nice, new guy.
Rule 785: Even after a major security breach, it’s okay for the president to go off the security playbook, so long as the credits are about to roll.
(**1/2 out of *****)