This is Geometry week. Yesterday was the lowly Point – today we will connect two of those to make a line. In the Line of Fire is currently available on instant Netflix.
WATCH: In the Line of Fire (1993) – Rated R for adult content, graphic language and violence.
In this triple-Oscar-nominated thriller, director Wolfgang Peterson sets in motion a deadly mind game: A twisted yet ingenious killer (John Malkovich) torments and teases a veteran Secret Service agent (Clint Eastwood) who is haunted by his failure years ago to save JFK. Unable to make the current president take the psychos assassination threats seriously, the agent and his partner (Rene Russo) pursue him on their own, walking into a trap.
“John F. Kennedy said all someone needs is a willingness to trade his life for the Presidents”
Wolfgang Petersen does a great job of directing here. After the classic Das Boot, he came to Hollywood and directed several very intelligent thrillers (this, Outbreak, and Air Force One). Unfortunately he has misfired lately with Troy and Poseidon, two films that should have been so much better than they were.
In the Line of Fire begins with the requisite action scene before becoming an intelligent tense cat and mouse thriller. The opening scene also serves to point out the other main job of the Secret Service – that of protecting U.S. currency.
The screenplay written by Jeff Maguire was nominated for an Oscar. It lost to The Piano by Jane Campion.
I really like that as Clint Eastwood ages, his tough guy characters age as well. His Secret Service agent Horrigan almost has a heart attack on POTUS duty.
Of course Clint would not be Clint if he were not going after someone young enough to be his daughter (sometimes granddaughter). Here the love interest is Secret Service agent Lilly Raines played by Rene Russo. They share a hilarious hotel scene where they shed their equipment.
They give Clint a partner here. Dylan McDermott is Secret Service agent Al D’Andrea but he is more window dressing / plot development than anything else. As with any good cat-and-mouse thriller, the focus is squarely on the protagonist and antagonist.
John Malkovich is excellent here as “Booth”, the would-be assassin. Petersen delights in giving him many different looks. He was nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar for this role. He lost to Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive.
The third Oscar nomination that this film got was for Best Film Editing. Anne V. Coates lost to Michael Kahn for Schindlers List.
While not the best of Petersen’s American thrillers (that honor goes to Air Force One), this is a really good one. I have no reservation recommending it.
People Watch: Look for a pre-Saw Tobin Bell in the opening scene and an uncredited Steve Railsback as CIA Agent David Coppinger.