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Spot the Difference: White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen
Written by Ivan Radford  
Saturday, 14 September 2013 12:31

As Channing Tatum fights this week to save the White House from terrorists who have taken the building hostage, the question everybody's asking is: are White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen the same film?

Let's play a quick game of Spot the Difference to find out.

Starts out as another normal day for a failed security guard

White House Down Olympus Has Fallen comparison

Child in peril

Bickering second-in-commands

Helicopters attack White House

Banter over walkie talkie/phone

Disenchanted US secret agent criticises America's foreign policy

Lasts for over two hours

Bromance between President and security guard

White House gets at least partially blown up

Cars chase each other across the White House lawn while the President leans out of the window and fires a rocket launcher

Yes, even with markedly distinct US Presidents, it takes our hero driving a car across the White House lawn while POTUS leans out of the window and fires a rocket launcher to tell Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down apart.

It sounds ridiculous but White House Down knows it is - and that's the key difference between them. Olympus Has Fallen's grim, straight-faced action was moderately enjoyable because it was unintentionally bad. White Has Down, on the other, is huge fun because it realises how silly it is. "Oh my God, it's President Sawyer!" exclaims one onlooker. "And he's carrying a rocket launcher!" With knowing dialogue like that, you can laugh with it.

The film suffers from Roland Emmerich's usual problems - it's overlong and over-plotted to the point of resembling a checklist on a stars and stripes clipboard - but it's hilariously ridiculous in the way that only the director knows how. Where else will you see tanks marching on the White House, or our hero arguing with a squirrel? Not in Olympus Has Fallen; it doesn't have the sense of humour. Channing Tatum is more charismatic than Gerard Butler to boot, while his banter with Jamie Foxx's head of state is genuinely funny. Even the bad guys here have a more interesting motivation than in Olympus Has Fallen, where they were simply being Korean.

Does that make White House Down the smarter of the two? Not really. Treat them as spreadsheets and they're essentially the same dumb story with the same blockbuster beats. But the thing that separates the two? One of them will have you smiling throughout. Well, that and a President wielding a rocket launcher.


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