In the Line of Fire Movie Review

Clint Eastwood was a legend a long time before Wolfgang Petersen decided to cast him as an aging Secret Service agent trying to derail a psychopath who's trying to assassinate the President. But Petersen's movie, titled In the Line of Fire, benefits immensely from his history and his presence, his ironclad persona as last man standing. Sporting a well-cut suit jacket rather than a poncho and a pair of holsters, Eastwood's steely resolve still has the power to rejuvenate otherwise rote plot conventions with every sliver of his gravelly voice, as if questioning his opponents' manhood with every flick of an adverb.

Eastwood plays Frank Horrigan, the kind of man who comes home after a long day of booby-trapping money counterfeiters and wants nothing else than to get out of his suit, drink a good glass of bourbon, and listen to Kind of Blue. Just as he's settling into one of these comfortable slumps, he receives a phone call from a man who calls himself Booth (John Malkovich). Sober and staid, Booth tells Frank that he's going to kill the president. The fact that Booth's deserted apartment is found with a singular photo of Frank when he was an agent under JFK underlines Horrigan's conviction.

Petersen is playing cat-and-mouse, but he's doing so on a grand scale. It's Dirty Harry goes to Washington. Scribe Jeff Maguire saddles the film with a light romance between Horrigan and a hot-to-trot female agent, ably played by Rene Russo, plus a bureaucratic maelstrom cooked up by a presidential advisor (Fred Dalton Thomas) and the postulant agent-in-charge for the Secret Service (Gary Cole). The wolf-and-cub play between Frank and his young partner (Dylan McDermott) comes off as custard: cute enough but ultimately benign.

No matter the distractions and sleight of hand, the fireworks are all Eastwood and Malkovich. Whereas Eastwood is all accountable, hard-assed efficiency, Malkovich is a study in brooding frenzy. It takes Horrigan a while to pinpoint Booth's soft spots, but the villain has the agent's number from the get-go and has a devil of a time spinning him. It's a devil of a time to watch as well. When Frank does finally break Booth's calm seal, there's an outburst, but we see nothing of it again until the visceral, if not preposterous, ending. The consistent professional, Malkovich segues back into cool menace without a moment of hesitation.

Petersen's commendable pacing throws down the gauntlet and Malkovich and Eastwood savor the thrusts and parries, perhaps even a little too much. Nothing else in the picture has the hope of standing up to these throttling psychological battles, all the more impressive since they are mostly done on the phone. The aged friendship between Horrigan and the Director of the Secret Service (John Mahoney) has a conversant strum to it, but soon enough, it becomes a simple procedure vs. experience argument between two ragged old-timers. That's the point: Petersen wants us to think that Frank has a life beyond topping Booth and tries to prove it with these slight moments of placid social life, but nobody else matters. Frank and Booth were made for each other.

Cast & Crew

Producer :


Comments

In the Line of Fire Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, 1993

Editors Recommendations

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

The Cannes Film festival is sneaking up fast. The Oscars felt like they were 8 minutes ago...

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

Next weekend's CounterPoint Festival will be the event's first year at a new 5000-acre site, featuring...

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Superhero movies have been striving towards the almost unobtainable goal set...

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Ricky Gervais is "Hooked" on David Brent Again - Former Paper Merchant To Return

A return for David Brent has been mooted ever since the character was wheeled...

Ricky Gervais is

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing "Made In America" To Downtown Los Angeles

Jay Z and the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti have announced that the rapper’s...

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing

Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

The editor-in-chief of US VOGUE magazine is reportedly determined for the annual...

Anna Wintour - Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

Jay Z Announces Second Budweiser Made in America Music Festival To Be Held In Los Angeles

Jay Z is one of the music's most successful entrepreneurs and he is now making...

Jay Z Announces Second Budweiser Made in America Music Festival To Be Held In Los Angeles

AC/DC Aren't Retiring After All, It's Just One Band Member

Finally, after three whole days of unchecked speculation online, AC/DC have...

AC/DC Aren't Retiring After All, It's Just One Band Member

Lady Gaga Startling Unedited Versace Ad Snaps Leaked

Lady Gaga has become the latest celebrity to find themselves in the middle...

Lady Gaga Startling Unedited Versace Ad Snaps Leaked


More recommendations