Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Eastwood, you devil.
As far as film stars go, I’m not the biggest fan of Clint Eastwood. Boo and hiss all you want, but I happen to believe the guy doesn’t have too much talent. I mean, sure, he’s got some talent to speak of, but if he isn’t typecast as the rough and tough guy with the Batman voice, I don’t know what he is. The fact is, sometimes the stuff he does works, sometimes it doesn’t. I have only seen one of the Dirty Harry films, but only because Jim Carrey was in it. I really couldn’t care less about that franchise, and I probably never will. As far as roles I think Clint Eastwood actually does a good job in? It’s far and few between for me, but In the Line of Fire is definitely one that I believe fits his character…overall.
This film is about Frank Horrigan, an aging secret service agent that has been around for several different Presidents, including JFK. The death of JFK is something that changed Agent Horrigan, as he sometimes feels responsible for not being there for the president when he was needed. When a deranged lunatic with a taste for theatrics makes a threat to the president, it’s up to Frank alone to outsmart “Booth” in his diabolical plot to kill the president. Only, Frank may be too old to mentally and physically handle this amount of stress.
Okay, presidential assassination films have been around forever…but they keep coming, because traumatic things like that really reel in an audience. Like I said, I think Clint Eastwood fit his role very well here, but it would have been absolutely nothing without John Malkovich. I’m telling you, I love almost everything that man is in, because he can play crazy so well that you either love to hate him, or just love him period. This was a love-to-hate scenario. This guy was crazy, he had some motive for his actions, but it was more along the lines of madness. After all, ol’ Batman voice needed a joker right? Was that mean? I don’t care.
Remember now, this film was done in the early ‘90s, and impressive as it was then, it’s equally impressive to know that after twenty years, the film still translates pretty well for a modern audience. I will say, however, that some ‘80s cheese garbage carries over here and there with some of the melodramatic scenes, but for the most part it stays pretty steady and sincere with how everything should have gone down. It’s action oriented, it’s mysterious, it’s diabolical, and it’s really smart. That plastic gun that Malkovich’s character is making from scratch is one of the best weapon ideas Hollywood’s ever had, really. Realistic? Not in a million years, but they play it off so well that yeah, you’ll believe it. The guy’s insane enough to create something like that, after all.
My main objection in the film had to do with Lilly Raines, the female agent that is a romantic interest for Frank. I get it, he’s got to get over his wife, but I’m having incredible difficulty believing that this woman, played by Rene Russo (age. 39) would be romantically interested and infatuated with this 60 year old man. No, it’s the smarts and wisdom! Put a sock in it, he’s old, grey, wrinkly, constantly sweating and pushing heart attacks…how sexy he must be…no I’ll tell you what that was – the expectation that there has to be romance in a film like this. Did they need it? Not at all. Did it improve anything? Not at all, actually made things worse. Just saying.
Overall, In the Line of Fire was actually a really fun and cool movie starring Eastwood as a secret service agent. The performances for the most part were spot on and they made things that are normally cliché and farfetched fun and believable. Malkovich and Eastwood play well against each other, making this a very memorable film.
We got some ‘80s cheese spilling over into the ‘90s, making some of the scenes feel weirdly melodramatic and off-putting. Also the romance between Eastwood and Russo is weird, man…weird.
Mitch Leary: Call me Booth
Frank Horrigan: Why not Oswald?
Mitch Leary: Because Booth had flair, panache – a leap to the stage after he shot Lincoln.