Face-Off: White House Down vs. Olympus Has Fallen

Last week's Face-Off column put a couple of modern espionage operatives against each other, and you were almost split down the middle between MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE's Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the BOURNE trilogy's Jason Bourne (Matt Damon).

This weekend, Channing Tatum is back on the beat (with co-star Jonah Hill) in the sequel 22 JUMP STREET. Tatum's latest stands a good chance of performing better than last summer's expensive starring vehicle, the action flick WHITE HOUSE DOWN -- which may have been a victim of being late to screens after the similar OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN beat it to the punch. How do these two "DIE HARD in D.C." flicks stack up?

SPOILERS below for those who haven’t seen them.

(Please note: Face Off is an opinion column. We're not using any actual science to prove or disprove anything. It's just for fun.)
John Cale (Channing Tatum), a Capitol police officer who wants to become a Secret Service agent. On the day of his interview, he inadvertently becomes the only man capable of protecting the President during a terrorist attack on the White House
Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a former Secret Service agent for the President, taken off duty when the First Lady dies in an accident on his watch. Eighteen months later when the White House comes under attack by terrorists, Banning ditches his US Treasury post and heads to the building to systematically and violently dispatch the bad guys and rescue the President
James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx), who is intercepted by Cale before the invaders can capture him. Sawyer then follows and assists Cale in neutralizing the terrorist threat
Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) , a widower after his First Lady (Ashley Judd) gets literally iced in the opening scene. Unfortunately Asher also spends most of the movie tied up in a bunker with the terrorists
Secret Service Deputy Special Agent Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Vice President Hammond (Michael Murphy), General Caulfield (Lance Reddick), Secret Service agent Kellerman (Matt Craven), a plucky tour guide (Nicholas Wright)
House Speaker Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), Secret Service Director Jacobs (Angela Bassett), Secretary of Defense McMillan (Melissa Leo), Secret Service agent Roma (Cole Hauser), General Clegg (Robert Forster)
The President's head of security Walker (James Woods), who disagrees with Sawyer's foreign policy and wants revenge for the death of his soldier son. Using his henchman Stenz (Jason Clarke) and a small army of mercenaries to invade the White House, Walker and House Speaker Raphelson (Richard Jenkins) attempt a coup d'état to take over the Presidency and countermand Sawyer's peace treaty in the Middle East
Korean radical Kang (Rick Yune), who uses a small army of heavily armed terrorists to assault the White House with a plan to unite North and South Korea, and to self-destruct America's nuclear arsenal in their silos and turn the country into a radioactive wasteland. He gets inside assistance from Forbes (Dylan McDermott), a former colleague of Banning who helps Kang because he disagrees with Asher's policies
Emily (Joey King), Cale's precocious politics-obsessed 11-year-old daughter who gets taken hostage by the terrorists and used as leverage
The President's son Connor (Finley Jacobsen), who Banning finds hiding in the White House and has the sense to quickly get him safely outside so he can return to his business of mercilessly slaughtering terrorists
Cale shoots a whole bunch of mercenaries, blows up Stenz with grenades, and perforates Walker with a minigun (although he would've been red mist if not for the movie's PG-13 restraints).

Additionally, POTUS kicks the hell out of one merc and takes out another with a submachinegun, Air Force One gets blown to smithereens with the Vice President and staff on board, Secret Service agents are gunned down by the mercs, and two helicopters full of soldiers get blasted out of the sky
Banning single-handedly wades through the terrorists in glorious R-rated fashion, stabbing heads, snapping necks, filling them with bullets, and even mashing one dude's skull with a bust of Abraham Lincoln. He finally goes hand-to-hand with Kang himself and finishes off the villain with his signature move -- a blade in the noggin.

Also, dozens of civilians and police are messily mowed down by the terrorists' C-130 gunship, tourists are crushed by the crumbling Washington Monument, pretty much every Secret Service agent gets annihilated by a small army of attackers, and several helicopters of soldiers get blasted out of the sky
Roland Emmerich, who never met a national landmark he couldn't obliterate (as also demonstrated in INDEPENDENCE DAY, 2012, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and GODZILLA). He also brought us the slightly less destructive THE PATRIOT, 10000 BC, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, STARGATE and ANONYMOUS
Antoine Fuqua, who gained experience with lots of people being shot in THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS, TEARS OF THE SUN, SHOOTER, and TRAINING DAY. He also brought us KING ARTHUR, the crime story BROOKLYN’S FINEST and the action-comedy BAIT (starring the other movie's President, Jamie Foxx)
$205 million worldwide (on a reported $150 million budget)
$161 million worldwide (on a reported $70 million budget)
Both cliché-riddled movies are entertaining enough popcorn flicks (if equally flagrant in their DIE HARDiness) with appealing casts and plenty of action. WHITE HOUSE DOWN feels almost like a spiritual sequel to 21 JUMP STREET following Tatum's dim yet competent officer later in his life, and while both Tatum and Foxx get credit for keeping things light, OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN ultimately wins more points for its tension and ridiculous brutality, both from Butler's ex-Special Forces badass and the ruthless terrorists' tactics. (Additional bonus for taking the endangered child out of the equation.)

WHITE HOUSE DOWN did eventually make more dough at the box office (mostly from international audiences), but the more reasonable cost of OLYMPUS pushed it into the black and justified plans for a sequel, LONDON HAS FALLEN.

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?



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