Sunday, April 17, 2011
#104: In the line of fire
Clint Eastwood must be the kind of man who can be boring material for a reviewer which is why perhaps this is his first movie that is featured on this blog. When I saw boring, I mean how many ways can you actually say that the man knows how to put together a great movie and that he is a great actor. Even if you're not into Hollywood, one look at his acting filmography is enough for you to get an idea about his talents. And then there's his filmography as a director. And then as a producer. One cannot know the man and not be in awe of his talents.
One of Eastwood's lasting legacies in cinema is his portrayal of the cop Harry Callahan in the 70s. 'Dirty Harry' as the character came to be known was the kind of cop who wouldn't think twice before endangering his or anyone's life in the interest of nabbing a criminal. There were five movies in that series and the last he appeared as Dirty Harry was in Dead Pool in 1988. In In the line of fire, one can say that Dirty Harry is making a comeback as secret service agent Frank Horrigan. Just the name is different and years have passed in the interim otherwise the style is the same. This time he is playing the security officer in-charge of the President's election campaign and a man named Mitch Leary (John Malkovich) has openly challenged Frank that he won't be able to save the President. Since Frank also happened to be the security officer when President Kennedy was shot, he has taken up this recent assignment as a means to redeem his past. His only friends on the establishment side are Lilly Raines (Rene Russo) and Sam (John Mahoney)-an old friend of Frank's. Everyone else on the team thinks old Frank is going to be a liability.
With this background, if you add the cliche of Lilly falling in love with Frank and his showdown with Mitch being the climax of the movie, you have got a good picture of this picture. Why you still must watch this is because Eastwood is in top form and so is the menacing and psychotic Malkovich. The constant mind games between them and their quest to upstage each other keeps the movie alive and kicking. Having said that, Rene Russo is wasted and her love track with Eastwood is something that writer could've done without but in director Wolfgang Peterson's hands, the movie has a neat pace that steadily builds itself towards a decent ending.
In the Line of Fire is your average cop thriller that keeps pushing the boundaries because of some excellent acting by it's protagonists. It has the charm of the old Dirty Harry movies but not the flourish, the structure but not the finish.
But it still has Eastwood chasing a killer with a gun and you can't go wrong much with this, can you ?