Box art for White House Down

White House Down

action & adventure, thrillers

Policeman John Cale has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer. Not wanting to let down his little girl, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when it is overtaken by a paramilitary group.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 13
3 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
1 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
Positive role models
3 out of 5
1 out of 5
4 out of 5

Patriotic thriller is ridiculous, violent, and entertaining.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that White House Down is a patriotic thriller in the vein of Olympus Has Fallen and Independence Day, in which the country is saved by one brave man with a gun -- in this case Channing Tatum. Like Independence Day, which was also directed by Roland Emmerich, there's a lot of violence, but most of it is on a grand scale -- explosions, helicopters/planes crashing, and deaths the audience doesn't see too up close. There are a few hand-to-hand combat scenes and a tense hostage situation in which people (some in high levels of the administration) are executed or wounded. A young girl is frequently in danger and is almost killed on a couple of occasions (which ups the movie's intensity level), and the president seems dead. There's absolutely no sex or romance, but there's some language, including a single "f--k you," plus "s--t," "bitch," and "a--hole." Ultimately it's a crowd-pleasing action movie with a well-intentioned but slightly contradictory message involving both peace and the importance of armed defense.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the amount of violence in White House Down. Does any of it seem realistic? How does that affect its impact?
  • How does seeing the destruction of national landmarks like the White House and the Capitol affect you? Is it more disturbing than when random buildings explode in movies?
  • Talk about which historical facts/trivia nuggets you learned about the White House and the presidency. Is the immediate line of presidential secession clearer now that you've seen it played out on screen? What did you think about the jockeying for control between the Secret Service and the military/joint chiefs of staff?
  • How does the movie's depiction of domestic terrorists and military mercenaries differ from other threats to the White House in previous movies/TV shows?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all White House Down reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: The essential climate of the movie - the climate of hysteria, dysfunction and mendacity, backed up by an enduring, essentially optimistic and arguably idiotic culture of popular patriotism ... feels strikingly authentic to our historical moment.

- Andrew O'Hehir,, Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rotten: White House Down is the kind of celebration of rampant mayhem in which everyone seems to have a rocket launcher -- or at least a live hand grenade -- at the ready, just in case they need to dispatch a scrum of exceptionally vile and cruel villains.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rotten: Essentially a louder, sillier version of Die Hard, with John Cale standing in for John McClane, a precocious daughter standing in for the plucky wife, and, alas, no one even much trying to stand in for Alan Rickman's deliciously wicked Hans Gruber.

- Christopher Orr, The Atlantic, Friday, June 28, 2013

Audience Reviews

2 stars

Foxx and Tatum's chemistry is solid and there are couple of well-staged set pieces, but ''White House Down'' suffers from its length, bland characters and poor script.

- fb100001050230219, Saturday, July 6, 2013

3 stars

First thing's first: This movie is much better than the other 2013 action movie with the same plot, "Olympus has Fallen". "White House Dawn" is a campy film that (surprisingly for a Roland Emmerich movie) knows exactly what it is. Yes, there are moments of complete lunacy that eschews logic and reality, there is some painfully cliched dialogue, and it is entirely too long. Still, hot on the heels of "World War Z", this goofy romp is another example of a summer blockbuster that successfully does what it sets out to do. Especially impressive is the cast. With this movie, Channing Tatum cements his acting versatility, showing off the comedic timing he put to perfect use in "21 Jump Street", while also coming across as a believable (albeit conveniently trained) person with genuine emotions. Jamie Foxx was an inspired choice as President, and James Wood and Richard Jenkins are also slamdunk choices.

- fb791220692, Tuesday, August 27, 2013

3 stars

With a ridiculous setup, some of the most cringe inducing one-liners and a sprinkling of visually stupid images, including a scene where a terrorist blows away everyone in the room, then goes out of his way to shoot a portrait of George Washington between the eyes before he leaves, or the finale which culminates in a final flag waving scene that made my eyes nearly roll out of my head, common sense dictates that a movie like "White House Down" should not have worked at all. But, as much as "White House Down" is an action movie by the numbers, the latter half is so continuously edge of your seat exciting, it will serve as a high octane reminder that even though director Roland Emmerich is responsible for "10,000 BC" and "The Day After Tomorrow" and "2012"...oh, and that '98 Godzilla movie, he is also responsible for "Independence Day" and therefore still knows his way around an action sequence or two. In fact, with everything that was working against this movie on a plot level, Emmerich proves that he still has it, by manufacturing one of the better action flicks of the year. Synopsis: Jamie Foxx (Ray) plays the Jordan wearing, Nicorette chewing, gun toting version of the president that black people wish Obama could be and Channing Tatum (Magic Mike) basically plays himself playing a man who wants to work for the secret service. Distraught after being denied the position because he has "raw talent, but never finishes anything", Tatum's character, John Cale (a close cousin of John McClane) decides to take his daughter (who for the purposes of this story maintains a fractured relationship with her father) on a white house tour, when a bomb goes off and yadda yadda yadda, terrorist, yadda yadda yadda, cue the generic pulsating action movie score and Tatum must save President Foxx and the day, in order to find favor in his daughters eyes and maybe get that job on the secret service detail all in one fell swoop. If the premise sounds asinine, that's only because it is. BUT that doesn't matter since all of the characters are one dimensional and none of the motives of said terrorists make a whole lot of sense. In fact, the entire set up (which lasts about 30 minutes) is so poorly constructed, from the terrible daddy-daughter banter, to a predictable storyline regarding the head of the secret service (played by James Woods) and it being his last week on the job. But again, once the shooting starts, Emmerich proves why he is one of the best action directors in the game, creating something out of literally nothing. To read the rest of my review go to: Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus Written by Markus Robinson

- ghostdog86, Monday, July 1, 2013