Is White House Down Based on a True Story?

‘White House Down’ is an action thriller film that follows John Cale, a US Capitol Police officer, who becomes trapped inside the White House with his daughter when a paramilitary force lay siege to the Presidential residence. John Cale (Channing Tatum) is at the White House with his daughter for a guided tour when suddenly, the building is attacked and captured by a group of heavily armed and well-organized men. Their goals are unknown, but their target is clear – US President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx).

The 2013 film features Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx in the lead roles, alongside Joey King, Jason Clarke, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, and James Woods. While the premise of the movie seems exaggerated, one can’t help but wonder if there were any actual attempts to capture the White House that may have inspired the story of ‘White House Down.’ If you are curious about the same, then here’s everything you need to know!

Is White House Down a True Story?

No, ‘White House Down’ is not based on a true story. Directed by Roland Emmerich, the action film is written by James Vanderbilt. While details in the film, such as the White House’s security features and protocols, add to the realism of ‘White House Down,’ the story really stretches out the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. In the past, there have been many individuals who have trespassed onto the White House grounds, and at times, the building itself – the most recent of which involved actress Maria Bakalova.

The Bulgarian actress snuck into the White House during a press conference held by former president Donald Trump while shadowing another journalist. She apparently did it to capture some footage for her own movie ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.’ However, none of these attempts were ever dangerous for anybody but the trespassers themselves. Neither were they as outlandish or violent as what has been portrayed in ‘White House Down.’

Certain other aspects in ‘White House Down’ could have used a lot more research which might have added to the realism of the situation, if not its believability. Questionable military response and dialogues during the siege, as well as the procedures involved in the launching of a nuclear warhead, are clear examples of this in the film. This does not take away from the entertainment value of ‘White House Down’ in any way, however.

Both Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum really lean into their roles, and the chemistry between them adds a sense of humanity to the action-packed film and moves the story forward. “He [Channing] had a sense of direction in the film. He is producing the film, and so that was really a breath of fresh air to see, you know, a young guy sort of commanding his destiny and things like that,” Jamie Foxx said in an interview with Rosa Gamazo about his initial impression of Channing Tatum and working with him on the set of ‘White House Down’.

The film is also rife with plenty of homages to the Bruce Willis starrer ‘Die Hard’ which had a similar storyline and from which it might have taken inspiration. There is even a small reference to Director Ronald Emmerich’s hit sci-fi action adventure ‘Independence Day.’ Though it is hard to believe that the sequences depicted in ‘White House Down’ could ever happen in real life, the film does a good job of putting in front of the audience a possibility wrapped in an entertaining and fast-paced two hours. There is a sense of urgency to the film, which is presented expertly through the actors’ performances and dialogues.

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