“White House Down”
Music By Thomas Wander & Harald Kloser
Varese Sarabande VSD-7209
23 Tracks/Disc Time: 47:36
Earlier this year, audiences were treated to “Olympus Has Fallen”, the hit action-thriller that starred Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Oscar Winner Morgan Freeman which thrilled audiences with a strong cast and rather audacious plot involving an attack on the White House. Now fast forward now to mid-summer and now audiences were treated to a similar action-thriller of the PG-13 variety and directed by the always bombastic and audacious Roland Emmerich (“Stargate”, “Independence Day”, “The Patriot”) whose films have always been spectacular old school spectacles that thrilled audiences more then fifty years ago. Emmerich’s fun and humorous film stars the streaking hot (well, until this film) heartthrob Channing Tatum (“Magic Mike”, “G.I.Joe: Rise Of Cobra”) as Capitol Policeman John Cale, has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Oscar Winner Jaime Foxx). Not wanting to let down his daughter with bad news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. The film written by “Amazing Spider-Man’s” James Vanderbilit features a fine cast that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Secretary”), James Woods (“Nixon”, “Any Given Sunday”), Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”), Joey King (“Dark Knight Rises”), Lance Reddick (“The Wire”) and Michael Murphy (“Manhattan”).
The film is amongst many summer box-offices failures (in terms of profit) but many were thrilled by the outlandish plot and over the top performances, as usual for a Roland Emmerich film. Another standard to Emmerich’s films now is the work of the composing duo of Thomas Wander and Harald Kloser, who have been working with the German director since the blockbuster hit “Day After Tomorrow” almost ten years ago and have contributed heavily to his somewhat successful films that include “10,000 BC”, “2012”, Anonomous” and now this film. The score for this film is pretty much in the tradition of the previous films, but with a little more patriotism (albeit minimal) with plenty of action to boot. It’s a neat little bombastic score complimentary full orchestra and with plenty of quiet moments which you either enjoy on its’ own merits or find plenty of faults for mimicking the works of action maestros such as Jerry Goldsmith, Alan Silvestri and Michael Kamen to name a few.
“White House Down Opening Theme” opens the album with an optimistic and tender piece of music that really features and underlying patriotic theme as the track develops with warm string work and upbeat brass and” Arrival At The White House” features almost the same material as in the opening with even more upbeat flair as its’ predecessor. “Give Me A Chance” is nice little track that is very tender and lush with woodwinds taking over the brass part of the score’s theme played throughout the track backed by a nice keyboard motif to end it.
Of course, there’s plenty of suspense and action on this album that action fans will most likely enjoy starting with “Elevator Chase” which the duo quickly establish a rhythmic and energetic pulse as they shift gears from their tender patriotic material to a full blown assault with aggressive strings, brass, percussion and electronics. “Fighting Vadim” continues the all out action with this brief and propulsive track that is effective for what it is which is pure bombast just as the tracks “Which Direction”, “Gonna Shoot Me?” and “Cale’s On The Roof”. As the bombast subsides for the most part, the suspense filler and pretty good filler it is takes over with the tracks “We Are A Go”, “You Have 8 Minutes”, “Two Minutes To Target” and “Facial Recognition” which are somewhat low key in nature but really are very sinister with a pulse. “White House Down End Theme” ends the album on an upbeat note the same way it started with a reprise of the score’s main theme that purely lush patriotism.
Varese Sarabande’s album is a nice little breezy action score that really doesn’t take too long in establishing what it intends to do much like the film itself. There is a good theme to work with here and that really goes a long way especially action scores which tend to be mindless, themeless noise at times nowadays. Wander and Kloser really do an effective job with this score and pulls no punches as to what it is and what it’s supposed to do for the film and within it. The strangest part I do find is why there wasn’t more music on it? Considering that it is a summer blockbuster (well was a potential one), that the album would feature more than 43 minutes. I guess alot more would wear out its’ welcome and it was best to cap it off here. For what it is and certainly one of the duo’s best scores that I’ve heard in quite sometime, I’d give “White House Down” a marginal, but upbeat thumbs up for knowing what kind of score it is and for that solid main theme.