Near the end of White House Down the hacker, Tyler, having finished his work puts on a military uniform (probably for disguise) and tries to escape by the tunnel "through which JFK brought in the Monroe". When reaching the explosively-locked gate which Cale and Sawyer saw earlier, he tries to unlock it (with a kind of chip card, I think). Having no success he tries a second time but then says something like "Oh shit!" and the thing goes off, blowing him away.

But my question is, why were his unlocking attempts not successful? Was it really just mere bad luck that his card didn't work or was there a better reason which I might have overlooked in the story?

  • I wondered about this, too. I'm not confident about this, but thought that it was poetic justice. I'm guessing that his genius plan was perfectly executed and well thought out, but he made a giant mistake in the smallest of details, printing a simple key card.
    – Ben Plont
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 23:59
  • 1
    Wikipedia says this, but it's not cited "Tyler tries to escape by deactivating the bomb on the tunnel gate, but discovers that it has been tampered with so it goes off rather than disarms when he leaves." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Down I don't know who tampered with it, maybe Emil Stenz to cover his tracks...
    – Ben Plont
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 0:07
  • Ya know, what DID happen to me?
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


Ben Plont quoted Wikipedia in the comments:

Tyler tries to escape by deactivating the bomb on the tunnel gate, but discovers that it has been tampered with so it goes off rather than disarms when he leaves.

However, that part is currently written a bit differently:

Tyler tries to escape but encounters the tunnel gate bomb. When he tries to deactivate it, it detonates instead, killing him.

In my opinion, there are two important details:

  1. Tyler did not set the bomb himself. He sets up a camera and then gets the bomb out of the protective suitcase, gives it to one of the henchmen, asks "You guys are good?" and leaves commenting "Don't mess it up".

  2. Raphelson, who was actually the man behind it all, wanted to eliminate all the evidence (including witnesses). Keep in mind that he was more than likely getting some operational help from his buds from the weapons industry.

So, my guess is that the bomb was deliberately planted in a way that it explodes whatever you do with it. Was it prepared like that before they even went in there or was it done there by the guy who planted it, remains unclear. But, with the lack of other viable explanations, I'd say it was part of the plan not to allow anyone to get out alive.

In my opinion, this is the weakest part of the movie. Not that any of that other stuff is realistic, but it works fine in the movie. This scene, however, is confusing. I believe that it was done to quickly get rid of Tyler when the movie didn't need him anymore, and you cannot just shoot a guy that wields computers instead of guns. This is quite similar to Argile disposing of Theo in "Die Hard", by crashing into his ambulance with a limo, thus not directly killing him, but only incapacitating him.


My guess is that Tyler screwed up when he (earlier) deleted his own profile from the database. This meant that his swipe card was no longer valid which, unfortunately for him, resulted in the bomb going BOOM.

  • "when he (earlier) deleted his own profile from the database" - Unfortunately, I don't remember this too well anymore. Yet could sound like a possible explanation.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 9:12
  • How is that possible, Christian? It is such a memorable movie ;) Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 9:14
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    C'mon, it wasn't so bad, definitely gonna rent the DVD once out (which will be the first time I'll be able to reconsider this question and its answer, unfortunately).
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 9:16
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    And when it comes to the answer; I don't see why the card would be tied to the database. It just doesn't make sense. One reason being that he didn't have access to the database until he hacked it, and he had already set up the bomb before that; and another being that even if you'd go so far as to use a keycard for deactivating a bomb it's just ridiculous to go so far as to connect it to a database.
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 18:23
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    @Tom "Not great, but compared to Olympus Has Fallen it was a friggin masterpiece" - Now that is a point I cannot support. They were just completely different, but Olympus Has Fallen was good in its own way, being an hommage to the good old humorless straight-to-the-point actioners of the 80s and 90s, and not such a bombastic "Bay-like" (or "Emmerich-like" if you want) event as White House Down was. ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 20:58

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