Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Nobody is likely to call John Cale an overachiever.

Sure, he's a level-headed guy now. But throughout his 20s, he just got by. He barely earned a passing grade from the military and averaged C's in college. As for his short-lived marriage, well, let's just say his ex-wife wasn't into grading on the curve.

The only thing this security officer for the Speaker of the House got right in that period of his life was his young daughter, Emily. She's as sharp as a tack and definitely going places, and John loves her dearly. Lately he's been working hard to make that relationship a more solid one.

So when John finally finagles an interview with the Secret Service—something he's been dreaming about for a long time—he makes sure to get a White House pass for Em as well. She is, after all, infatuated with all things government-related: Emily has her own current issues video blog, knows the ins and outs of the political scene and can even give the White House tour guide a pointer or two.

Their day together starts out nicely. But then the Secret Service interview goes south. It turns out that so-so performance records don't really cut it in the big leagues. And, unfortunately, that's a reality John can't do anything about.

And then things go from bad to worse—much worse. While John and Emily are taking the White House tour, a heavily armed paramilitary group bombs the rotunda, kills nearly every security officer and guard, locks the place down and starts moving to take the president hostage.

This situation, however, is one that John can do something about. He may never have been an A student, but he's learned some lessons very well: John Cole knows how to protect people and take out lowlifes with submachine guns. From John's perspective it's a simple job of finding the right hiding places and locating the best weapons possible. From there all he has to do is save his daughter, the president and, well, the country.

Now that might make it sound like John's an overachiever after all. But he likes to think of it as … a second job interview.

Positive Elements

John selflessly puts his life on the line when no one is asking him to do so. Part of that is due to the fact that, as he puts it, he "can't think of a more important job than to protect the president." But another part of his heroic choice is his inherent instinct to help where he can. In spite of the danger, he can't stop himself from following the bad guys when they're threatening others.

In fact, the only task that takes higher priority in his book is the protection of his daughter. The two of them are separated early on, and John spends a good deal of his time just trying to find her. But she's always on his mind, no matter what other derring-do he may be engaged in.

John and President Sawyer have a couple of conversations about the challenges of raising children these days, but both are determined to be the best fathers they can possibly be. And Sawyer, as a world leader, is painted in a heroic, idealistic light. On the political front, he talks about his desire to "make a difference" and moves to implement a Middle East peace plan that many in his political sphere aren't happy about. He says he believes even people with deep differences can overcome them if they choose to do so. He wants to do something bigger than simply campaign for reelection, to be remembered like Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington as a president who did something important. 

The president treats Emily kindly before the invasion, and later acts as a kind of surrogate father, protecting her when John can't do so. He is also ready to step out and surrender when the attackers threaten to kill someone if he doesn't show up.

For her part, Emily repeatedly acts heroically as well, first filming the invaders secretly with her phone and uploading the footage to YouTube (where government agents see it and use it to identify the men), and eventually playing a key role in averting a devastating strike on the White House by incoming Air Force jets.
On a different note, a White House Secret Service manager transitioning into retirement exhorts his replacement that she needs to have a life besides her career. "Don't make this your whole life," he says. "Trust me, it's not worth it."

Spiritual Content

The right-wing paramilitary attackers' tech-savvy hacker pulls out a small statue of the Hindu god Shiva to place beside his electronic belongings. Two scenes involve presidents being sworn in with hands on Bibles. We hear the phrase, "So help me God." John also earnestly blurts out "Thank God!"

Sexual Content

During a security sweep of an area where the president's helicopter is landing, an agent spots a thermal image of a couple having sex in their apartment. John agrees to provide a young female aide "dinner and more than second base" for her help in getting him a Secret Service interview and a White House pass for his daughter. During a White House tour, a woman wants to see the secret tunnels that John F. Kennedy purportedly used to smuggle Marilyn Monroe into the White House for his alleged affair with her. That subject comes up again later in the film as well. We hear that John and his wife welcomed little Emily into the world just six months after they were married.

Violent Content

It seems virtually every big action film lately has to include some sort of mass destruction scene. And White House Down is no exception. A faux janitor wheels a cart into the middle of the White House rotunda and detonates it, collapsing the dome and killing scores of innocents. And from there, the death-dealing and destruction only mounts:

The well-armed attackers systematically kill every guard and soldier—inside, outside and on top of the White House. Some are taken out with silenced pistol shots at point-blank range. The bad guys then set up snipers on the roof, armed with high-caliber weaponry and surface-to-air missiles. The snipers take out gate guards with precise headshots. Rooftop troops also destroy armored RVs, a small tank and a variety of attack helicopters—sending them spiraling earthward in shrapnel-spewing balls of flame. One of those aircraft, a Blackhawk military helicopter, crashes into the side of the White House, demolishing a wall. Residential quarters in the White House are set on fire. An armored limo is riddled with bullets and sent flipping into the White House pool. Air Force One gets blown out of the sky too.

Several buildings on the grounds erupt in flames as well. A man is crushed against a wall by a speeding RV. After an explosion, a large piece of glass pierces the president's side. Another person gets shot in the chest while trying to defend an innocent. Numerous victims are manhandled and pushed around.

One of those victims is young Emily. She's slapped in the face, has a pistol placed menacingly against her head and is used as a pawn to manipulate her father. Indeed, it looks as if the White House interlopers will make good on their threat to execute her at one point. One of the thugs holding her hostage growls, "When they come for us, you're going to die first." They also threaten to kill the girl unless the president gives them important access to nuclear codes. He poignanty tries to tell Emily that he'll have to let her die instead of letting millions of others die if he gives up the codes. "I understand," Emily says tearfully and bravely. If all that weren't enough, Emily repeatedly witnesses security guards being gunned down—all in all a lot of intense violence for a girl of perhaps 10 or 11 to be exposed to.

John and one of the key attackers, Stenz, go at each other in a rough-and-tumble brawl that bloodies both men and sends them tumbling off a roof and through a window. A tour guide kills a man with a heavy antique clock. The president stabs someone in the back with a fountain pen, and then gets shot himself. A man is killed when a belt full of grenades get wrapped around his neck and detonated. Another is perforated by bullets. A third gets obliterated by explosives. After the president is shot, John must remove a bullet from his torso. We see the bloody wound before John goes to work on the wince-inducing task.

Crude or Profane Language

One clear f-word (and perhaps another whispered under someone's breath) accompanies about 20 s-words. Jesus' name is misused nearly 10 times, while God's is abused about 20 times (including a dozen pairings with "d‑‑n"). We hear between five and 10 uses each of "d‑‑n," "b‑‑ch," "h‑‑‑" and "a‑‑hole." "P--- " and "b--tard" are used once or twice each. Someone uses the Yiddish crudity "schmuck," while another person is labled a "pr--k." One other crude reference to the male anatomy is made as well.

Drug and Alcohol Content

President Sawyer has boxes of Nicorette in his bedside table, and he pops a couple of tabs to calm his nerves. A political aid drinks a glass of alcohol aboard Air Force One. Somebody else takes prescription medication.

Other Negative Elements

The movie promotes the opinion that there's a thin line between those on the conservative side of the political aisle and a warmongering defense industry that's determined to keep its profits intact. Two key government insiders end up being traitors.


If you're worried you're going crazy because you thought the White House already went down once in 2013, let me assure you, everything's fine with your mental state.

Just as happened in Olympus Has Fallen, our country's capital has once again come under cinematic assault, with the executive mansion again serving as the attackers' focal point. Instead of North Koreans this time, it's right-wing extremists and white supremacists who are slipping with ridiculous ease past the country's tightest security and taking control of our nation's big bombs with paramilitary precision.

Oh, and all those John McClane comparisons raised by that last actioner? Well, they go triple here. The average-Joe hero this go-round is one John Cale. And his hapless-hero-foils-the-bad-guys behavior feels almost beat for beat like any of the past Die Hard films—minus Willis' patented smirking one-liners and plus a brave little girl exposed repeatedly to brutal violence and mortal threats practically from start to finish.

The most unfortunate part of such déjà vu, of course, is how this film's formulaic fists-'n'-fire action from disaster director extraordinaire Roland Emmerich plays on the big screen. Sure, the PG-13 rating means we don't witness the exact kind of gruesome violence that R-rated Olympus Has Fallen was chock-full of. But don't mistake that comparison for an endorsement. We still get a big dose of harsh language paired with (merely) slightly sanitized blow-everything-to-smithereens violence—violence that ultimately feels like it's just being mindlessly and mercilessly recycled from one "let's blow up the White House" movie to the next.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Channing Tatum as John Cale; Jamie Foxx as President Sawyer; Maggie Gyllenhaal as Finnerty; Jason Clarke as Stenz; Joey King as Emily; James Woods as Walker


Roland Emmerich ( )


Sony Pictures



Record Label



In Theaters

June 28, 2013

On Video

November 5, 2013

Year Published



Bob Hoose

Content Caution

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!