John Cale (Channing Tatum), a US Capitol Police officer, was trying to impress his daughter by bringing her to a White House tour and pretending he didn't just bomb his job interview to join the Secret Service (they didn't like his Cowboy Cop record). Unfortunately, a paramilitary group attacks the White House, and when most of the Secret Service ends up dead and the tourists end up being taken hostage, there's only one dude bad enough to save the President (and a bunch of other people too). The President himself (Jamie Foxx) is pretty badass, too.The direct competitor to Olympus Has Fallen. Compare and contrast it.This movie has sensitive plot twists. You Have Been Warned.
Battering Ram: During the lawn chase, Cale plans to ram the main gate to escape, but Sawyer points out that the gate is heavily armored and designed to resist attacks of that nature. Very much Truth in Television.
Big Damn Heroes: Seconds before Walker activates the briefcase, Cale rams a Secret Service SUV into the Oval Office, pins Walker to the wall, and then blasts him with a minigun.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Speaker of the House Raphelson, who spends the entire movie playing innocent and humble, only for it to be revealed in the end he was one of the masterminds of the whole tragedy, possibly the worst one.
Bling of War: The rocket launcher in the presidential limo is very shiny, including the rocket itself.
A woman on the tour asks to see the tunnels which JFK used to sneak Marilyn Monroe into the White House, and is told that it's just a myth. The tunnels exist and John and President Sawyer try to use them to escape later on.
While being held hostage, Donnie asks Killick if the terrorists could maybe be a bit careful with all the priceless antiques in the White House. Killick immediately bashes in a vase; a distraught Donnie pleads him to stop, claiming it's a Ming vase given by Queen Elizabeth. Donnie later saves Cale from Killick by smashing him over the head with an antique German clock, reciting its origin in the same way.
Book Ends: The helicopter ride over the Reflecting Pool.
Bottomless Magazines: Averted. Weapons are show running out of ammo and needing reloaded at multiple points in the film, and Cale keeps needing to steal weapons due to not carrying multiple magazines like the terrorists are.
Emily uses her flag-twirling skills to wave off the air strike using the presidential flag.
Donnie the Tour Guide gives some helpful information to Cole, especially the bit about the British burning down the White House back in 1814. Cole realizes he could create a major distraction for the terrorists by starting a few fires of his own.
It's briefly mentioned early on that one of Cale's previous jobs was a limo driver. It comes in handy when he and Sawyer try to escape the White House in the Presidential Limo.
Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. Bullets punch holes through anything not specifically mentioned as bulletproof, and there are several shots of characters ducking as automatic fire tears through the wall above them.
Played straight at one point, however, when Cale kills Stenz in the Press Corps briefing room by detonating several grenades at once. The explosion blows a large hole in the side of the building, but Cale escapes injury by hiding behind the podium.
Cool Car: The president's official limo, which the key fob titles "Ground Force One" in the movie, can withstand almost anything anyone can throw at it, and it takes several hundred minigun rounds and a couple well-placed rockets to stop it (but not destroy it).
Corrupt Corporate Executive: In a conversation with the Speaker early on, the President blames continued hostilities in the Middle East on defense industries that profit off the conflict.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Donnie the tour guide, who beats Killick, one of the mercenaries, to death with an antique clock, then cocks a shotgun with a witty one-liner, and leads the hostages to safety (granted, after Cale hands him the gun and tells him what to do).
Crusading Widower: Walker's son was killed in a covert op that Sawyer authorized, and he's determined not only to get revenge for his son's death, but to also ensure that no other Americans die in the Middle East... by wiping out the entire region with Sawyer's nuclear briefcase commands. Interestingly, his wife, when called in to try and talk him out of it, only encourages him upon hearing his justification.
Cutting the Knot: Walker's take on his actions. US troops can't keep dying in Middle East conflicts if there is no Middle East to have a conflict in!
Gatling Good: The mercenaries use miniguns on the president's limo when they try to escape, eventually causing so many indentations in the windshield that Cale is forced to navigate via external cameras. Cale later uses one to kill Walker at the end, seconds before he can trigger World War III.
Greed: The motivation of some of the mercenaries (though their motives are quite varied).
Hollywood Hacking: Missiles, whether nuclear or conventional, cannot be launched remotely, the guys at the on-site controls have to approve it.
Hollywood Silencer: Used by the bad guys in the initial attack, efficiently wiping out security until they get their hands on the bigger guns stored in the armory and abandon any pretense of stealth.
Improvised Weapon: Cale uses several throughout the film, mainly because he's got limited amounts of ammo and has to keep stealing new guns. Donnie beats one of the terrorists to death with a clock.
Insistent Terminology: Emily insists that it's known as a "YouTube channel" and not a "video blog" or "blog". She lets it slide when Sawyer says "blog", though. Might have something to do with him being the President.
Instant Death Bullet: Subverted. There are multiple instances in which someone gets shot but doesn't die immediately. The full aversion is implied when Walker is using Emily to get Cale to cooperate; he specifically states that he'll shoot her in the stomach, dooming her to a slow, painful death.
Intelligence Equals Isolation: Brought up briefly when Emily correctly answers all of Donnie's questions and does the "hand goes up immediately" thing.
Cale: Do you get picked on in school? Emily [confused]: No.
Intrepid Reporter: Emily gets to ask a question of President Sawyer and she queries a political one worthy of a reporter from The New York Times or 60 Minutes.
It's Personal: One of Cale's first kills is a man who saved Stenz' life in battle twice. Stenz takes it upon himself to hunt down Cale.
I Surrender, Suckers!: Cale uses this to great effect. When cornered, he starts bawling and begging for his life, waiting for the goon's guard to go down, and then shooting him three times.
I Want Them Alive: Walker and Raphelson need President Sawyer alive in order to hijack the nuclear arsenal with his football. Sawyer is aware of this and exploits it on multiple occasions.
Papa Wolf: John. The bad guys made a big mistake threatening his daughter. The Dragon finds this out the hard way when, after using his daughter as a hostage, gets an entire jacket of grenades tied around his neck and set off.
Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie: Lighter and Softer than many others on that list. As an extra jab at the terrorism, early on before the infiltrators are ID'd, one reporter mentions that there was no other way that this couldn't be linked to the War on Terror. It turns out that four of the infiltrators are white and have extensive backgrounds with the CIA.
Psycho for Hire: Most of the named mercenaries are psychopaths, though one of them seems to be more of a Punch Clock Villain and gets disturbed at how far the others are willing to go.
Red Herring: The Vice President almost seems a little too eager to invoke the 25th and take command, making it seem like he might have ulterior motives. He is, in fact, simply trying to do the right thing.
Red Shirt Army: Everyone in the White House security detail get gunned down very quickly when the mercenaries attack; only a few manage to fire back, but they miss and get shot themselves.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: On the other hand, the mercenaries are gunned down very easily by Cale. Really, both sides are useless at fighting. Justified in many cases because he's with the President, who the mercenaries want alive.
Running Gag: Raphelson and Walker are both "dinosaurs" when it comes to tech and still use pagers.
Shout-Out: Donnie mentions the spot where the White House was blown up in Independence Day. Helps that this movie also has the same director of said movie.
Shown Their Work: The film makers clearly did a lot of research into the White House's layout and lore for the film.
The Sociopath: Killick, one of the mercenaries, is explicitly said to be one.
Smug Snake: Raphelson, when he thinks he's won. After Cale proves he was a mastermind of the whole plot:
Raphelson: You dim little shit. I hired you out of pity, and this is how you repay me. But, you know tomorrow, when the people find out that your precious president helped a maniac open the nuclear football, who do you think they're going to believe? You, or me? Well, let's see now. You? You would be a nobody. But me? I'm the President of the United States.
Spanner in the Works: The villains' plan would have probably gone off without a hitch if a certain off-duty Capitol Police officer hadn't landed a job interview in the White House that same day.
President Sawyer's hypothesis about the plot against him involves one of these. Whether the writers subscribe to said hypothesis is never made explicit.
A number of those involved in the takeover of the White House are extreme right-wing radicals; the justification for this is that they were drawn from the pool identified by the Secret Service as having expressed credible threats against the President — said people tending to be nutcases.
Took a Level in Badass: President Sawyer gets one teaming up with Cale to take out the terrorists. Also Donnie the Tour Guide.
Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers show Air Force One being blown out of the sky, so anyone you see on the plane early on is doomed.
Twenty Fifth Amendment: What else does one invoke when the White House is under hostile control? Becomes a major plot point to get Raphelson to the level of getting the launch codes Walker can use with Sawyer's nuclear football.
Two-Keyed Lock: Averted with the nuclear football: the president's hand print and codes are all that is needed to launch America's nuclear arsenal, and no one else seems to have the authority to override. Especially since Skip hacked in and prevented them from being able to.
Walker when things start falling apart around him.
Ralphelson loses it when Cale and Sawyer reveal his part in the plan and have him arrested.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Walker wants to end the conflict in the Middle East and prevent any more Americans from dying there, as his son did... but his preferred method of doing so is to nuke the area into oblivion.
World Limited to the Plot: Only the White House takes the focus of the movie (around 80%). There are other areas that are featured throughout D.C. (and outside the US itself), but they are briefly mentioned.
The build-up of forces in Russia and China play in the background, and become relevant when Walker gets his hacker to break into NORAD, threatening global nuclear strikes.
At the end, it's casually mentioned that the other major powers are standing down their forces and signing onto Sawyer's peace plan.
Would Hurt a Child: The mercenaries and Walker are more than willing to hurt Emily. Stenz actually strikes Emily and threatens to murder her out of spite if it looks like they'll be caught or killed.
The main pilot of the air-strike against the White House aborts the attack when he sees Emily on the front lawn. Notable in that he makes the call himself, instead of waiting to hear from his commanders whether to proceed or not. For his part, the Speaker, now President, clams up and forces the pilot to make a judgement call.
Sawyer surrenders himself when Walker threatens Emily. But it gets worse when Walker threatens Emily with a gun to her head to force Sawyer to unlock his nuclear football. Sawyer knows if he does millions will die.