After a brief excursion into Shakespearean salaciousness with Anonymous, Roland Emmerich is back to doing what he (arguably) does best: blowing iconic landmarks to smithereens. His latest, White House Down, concerns a paramilitary group that takes over the White House, and leaves a wannabe Secret Service agent (Channing Tatum) on a quest to save the president (Jamie Foxx). Yes, it all sounds very much like Olympus Has Fallen, and viewers can draw their own conclusions about what these movies mean about government dissatisfaction. For Emmerich, it’s just another day at the office, an office that’s probably lined with maps, dartboards, and other means of arbitrarily deciding what disaster to unleash next. Emmerich is a professional sadist—a hack director who gets his jollies by seeing how many mass quantities of people he can murder.
In 2012, his idea of a nyuk-nyuk gag was seeing two old ladies get swallowed by the earth in their station wagon, while countless thousands screamed out their last breaths. However superficially handsome the new White House Down posters may be, with variations that include a young girl, some picnickers on the lawn of the Capitol, and a crowd of tourists near the Washington Monument, their eerie, all-is-well nature make them more sadistic than anything to herald a previous Emmerich picture. The maestro of indiscriminate slaughter has upped his game: “Let’s not show things being destroyed, let’s tease what’s about to be destroyed, and flaunt the handsome, unsuspecting people whose lives we’re about to not just ruin, but, hopefully, take!”