Before I really dig into this review, I have a couple of warnings for you. The first is that I’m going to spoil everything about this movie. I usually try hard not to ruin movies with excessive spoilers, but this movie is so bad I’m doing it on purpose to keep you from spending your money on it. The second is that I’m not going to get into technical things like the performances of the actors (ranging from bad to are you kidding?), the special effects (not as good as most video games), or the music (if you count non-stop gunfire and cussing as music) because what passes as a screenplay was so atrocious, unbelievable, and lazy that the technical stuff just doesn’t matter. So, if you are hell-bent on paying to see this putrid pile of crap, do yourself a favor and run head first into a streetlamp. I promise you’ll feel better after that than if you sit through this film.
The film starts off with a totally unnecessary scene in which the first lady (Ashley Judd) is killed off when the President’s motorcade crashes on an icy bridge near Camp David and their limo falls off the side just after Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) pulls the President (Aaron Eckhart) out of the car. It’s simply a contrived scene that serves the purpose of shocking the audience by killing off a notable actor while providing a flimsy reason for agent Banning not to be in the White House when the shit hits the fan. Eighteen months later, the shit hits the fan.
My biggest problem with this movie is that the things that happen make it impossible for you to suspend your disbelief. On the day of the attack, the South Korean prime minister meets with the President at the White House. When he walks in with his “security detail,” including an ex-secret service agent (Dylan McDermott), it’s painfully obvious that everyone but the prime minister is a terrorist. The attack begins when a unidentified C-130 military gunship flies into Washington D.C. airspace and shoots down two F-22 stealth fighters, then proceeds to fire on the White House, cars, pedestrians, other buildings, etc. They actually say “unidentified.” So, pretty much right off the bat, they are asking us to believe that in a post-9/11 D.C., an unidentified military plane flying over D.C. wouldn’t be immediately shot down. Plus, that only two fighter jets would be sent to intercept it. Plus, that neither of them would take up position behind it. Plus, that D.C. doesn’t have surface-to-air missiles to shoot it down. This whole scene is insane and exists only so the plane can crash into the Washington monument after finally being shot down. And wouldn’t you be disappointed if large chunks of the monument didn’t crush fleeing civilians? Of course they do.
Immediately following this, a bunch of bad guys with assault rifles and RPG’s blow a hole in the White House fencing, covered by garbage trucks outfitted with 35mm (I think) machine guns and mowing down everything that moves. For reasons beyond comprehension, the bad guys are all wearing those scarf/face masks with skeleton faces as if they are ran straight out of the gangs in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. As they make their way toward the White House, two things happen that defy logic. The first is that every agent decides to run out of the White House rather than take cover because the steps need a splash of blood I guess. The second is that Banning comes onto the grounds from behind the terrorists, killing several of them, but none of the terrorists ever turns around to deal with him. Maybe the masks blocked their peripheral vision and they couldn’t see their compatriots’ blood spraying on the sides of their faces.
After hundreds are killed or blown up, we’re left with Banning in the White House hiding from terrorists, while the head terrorist guys have captured the President, most of his staff, and are holed up in a bunker beneath the White House. That’s when it starts to get really crazy and throws out every action movie cliché you can think of.
The head terrorist is a guy named Kang who was posing as the South Korean prime minister’s head bodyguard. Banning eventually learns Kang’s name and passes it on to the Joint Chiefs in the Pentagon crisis room. Some pudgy idiot says (in mock surprise) that nobody has ever seen Kang, even though they have Kang’s picture on a giant screen along with his entire resume of bad deeds. Hundreds of people died in this movie and that idiot couldn’t be one of them?
Anyway, Kang also has the requisite hot cyber-chick who immediately takes over the White House and begins cracking some codes for an uber-secret thing called Cerberus. Cerberus is some magical thingy that allows the U.S. to self-destruct its nuclear weapons…all of them…at one time. If that’s not dumb enough, in order to activate Cerberus, the President, Vice President, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must each enter a code known only to them, only on the bunker computer, and the codes are not changeable. Oh. My. God. I’m fairly sure I passed out there for a while.
But, my favorite scene (by which I mean the scene that caused me to laugh out loud and go temporarily insane) was when the Speaker of the House (Morgan Freeman) walks into the standard-issue “room full of high ranking officials who are completely useless” and they tell him “sir, you are now under the protection of the secret service…you are the acting President.” I swear to you, two secret service agents step up from behind him to validate this response. Never mind that he just walked into the crisis room of the Pentagon and most assuredly is already under secret service protection. If you aren’t cackling liking a maniac at this scene, you have no soul.
The entire movie is filled with this bullshit in a naked attempt to out-Die Hard Die Hard by crossing it with Air Force One and Call of Duty. There’s a scene where the traitor agent tries to pretend he was just trapped in the building, an exploded helicopter meant to fool everyone that Kang killed himself, and everything else I already told you about. I wouldn’t have thought there would be a worse movie than It’s a Good Day to Die Hard this year, but clearly I’m a fool.
Rating: Seriously? You’d get more value from your money by lighting it on fire and pissing on it to put it out. Bonus points if you do this in the theater lobby.