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We Compare the Movies Attacking the White House in 2013
“Olympus Has Fallen” and “White House Down” both feature Secret Service agents trying to protect presidential administrations from terrorists. By Sophie Gilbert
Gerard Butler in Olympus Has Fallen. Photograph courtesy of FilmDistrict.
Comments () | Published March 1, 2013

If you’re one of those people who think culture peaked in 1988 when Die Hard came out, good news: 2013 is going to bring not one but two movies about brawny Secret Service agents on lone-wolf-like missions to save the White House from enemy combatants.

On the roster for release are Olympus Has Fallen, an Antoine Fuqua-directed drama starring Gerard Butler as a Secret Service agent forced to defend the President (Aaron Eckhart) against an attack on the White House by an evil terrorist genius (Rick Yune); and White House Down, a Roland Emmerich-directed drama starring Channing Tatum as a Secret Service agent forced to defend the President (Jamie Foxx) against an attack on the White House by a evil paramilitary group.

If you ignore the fact that pitting the jowly, not-too-many-years-away-from-being-Russell-Crowe Butler against Channing “even Charlize Theron wants to have sex with me” Tatum is just unfair, the movies are fairly evenly matched. Questions? We break the details down for you below.

Which director has the better creds?

Tough call. WHD’s Emmerich directed Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012, along with the infinitely less good 10,000 BC and Godzilla. Fuqua did the fantastic Training Day, obviously, as well as Brooklyn’s Finest, which made me fall asleep.

Tell us about the fictitious presidents who get into trouble.

Okay. Olympus’s is played by Aaron Eckhart. Let’s stop a minute to think about the fact that “Olympus” is Secret Service code for the White House, and how in Greek mythology it was also the home of the gods. Imperial presidency, much? Anyway, Aaron Eckhart is very handsome, and in this movie, judging from the trailer, he is very sad after his lovely wife (played by potential Kentucky Senate candidate Ashley Judd) dies in a car crash. So that’s one.

In WHD, Jamie Foxx is President, because America apparently didn’t see everything he got up to in Ray. And his First Lady is Garcelle Beauvais. That’s all we know because there’s no trailer, yet.

What gets blown up in the Olympus trailer?

The White House. And the Washington Monument appears to crumble after being hit by the wing of a plane.

Which villain is more evil?

We actually don’t know much about Stenz, the paramilitary guy who takes over the White House in WHD, other than that he’s played by Jason Clarke, an Australian actor who popped up in Zero Dark Thirty and plays George Wilson in Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby. So I’m going to give the edge to Rick Yune as Kang. Remember when he played a North Korean killer with diamonds embedded in his face in Die Another Day? Why couldn’t they take the diamonds out? Because Rick Yune is badass, and he liked his expensive acne.

Which one has a better Speaker of the House?

This is really killing me. Because it has to be Olympus, because Morgan Freeman wins everything by sheer virtue of being Morgan Freeman, and in this he plays Speaker Martin Turbull who becomes acting head of America when the President is kidnapped. But White House Down has Richard Jenkins, who is also delightful, and who starred with ol’ Chan the Man in the terrible chick flick Dear John.

Are there any other supporting characters we should know about?

Yes. WHD also features a female Secret Service agent played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is probably not the first person you would automatically put in an action movie with Channing Tatum. Rachelle Lefevre plays Tatum’s character’s ex-wife. Lance Reddick (from The Wire!) plays a colonel, and Michael Murphy is the Vice President.

In Olympus, Angela Bassett is the head of the Secret Service, Melissa Leo is Secretary of Defense (and I’m betting she would be super at it), and Phil Austin is the VP. Radha Mitchell is Gerard Butler’s wife. Dylan McDermott plays a former Secret Service agent who is now working for the South Korean foreign minister.

Which movie is a more shameless ripoff of Die Hard?

WHD, because Tatum’s character is named John and has an estranged wife.

When do they come out?

Olympus comes out March 22. WHD is getting the big guns: a June 28 release to coincide with Amerrrca’s birthday.

Will Channing Tatum take his clothes off?

Probably not. And that’s just a damn shame, and downright unpatriotic given that the film comes out Fourth of July weekend.

Will Gerard Butler?

Only if he wants to get back at me for writing this post.

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Posted at 10:15 AM/ET, 03/01/2013 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs