White House Down is a really odd film. It’s got everything going for it really, especially a great cast. It’s got Channing Tatum for God’s sake, and Richard Jenkins and James Woods. (It’s also got Maggie Gyllenhaal who clearly never washes her hair, but hey, you can’t have everything.) There’s a plot about a pacifist American President, and some other twaddle about a divorced Dad and his precocious transgender kid, and then there’s a whole lot of noise and shit blowing up, as terrorists take over the Capitol.
But as I said, it’s an odd film, mainly because it really doesn’t work at all. Like, AT ALL. Channing himself is bizarrely wimpy and unconvincing, Jamie Foxx is about as presidential as a box of apples, and the entire plot is in fact so completely disengaging that it’s entirely forgettable. I almost couldn’t remember enough to review it, and I only turned it off about fifteen minutes ago. Ah, well. White House Down filmed in Quebec.
Set in post-economic-collapse 2012, in a privately-operated prison, Death Race is about a whacko prison governor, an innocent man unfairly jailed, and a bloody, to-the-death car race around the grounds of a massive, decaying industrial complex that’s televised via the internet.
Now there’s a lot on line about the range of classic motor vehicles used in the car chases (Emmanuel Levy at his usual best) but very little in fact on the remarkable location of Terminal Island. As it turns out, filming took place in and around Silo #5 – an abandoned grain storage facility in the port of Montréal. (here’s a link to the Neighbourhood Notification sent out by the Production Company.)
A quarter of a mile long and over twenty storeys high, Silo #5 has a total capacity of five million bushels, or enough wheat to make 230 million loaves of bread. The building was constructed in several stages between 1903 and 1958. The newest part of the building was designed to last for generations, however due to changes in the global grain market and to the general trend of de-industrialization in North America at the end of the 20th century, the building became redundant less than forty years after its completion. It looks great on film though. As I always say: the bad guys never want to blow up the Nature Reserve.
As for the movie itself; so-so. Jason Statham again proves he’s the B-Movie hero of the era, and I’m wondering what exactly the fine Joan Allen thought she was doing by accepting this particular script. (I mean, it’s not like she’s chasing a fan base of pumped-up fifteen year olds…..) Anyway, Death Race is ok, but as an experience, it’s kind of like watching someone else play PlayStation; fun enough for a short while but in the end, pretty unexciting.