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In the Line of Fire
1993 - R - Mins.
Director: Wolfgang Peterson
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Rene Russo, John Malkovich, John Mahoney
Review by: John Ulmer
"They're going to write books about us, Frank."
- John Malkovich, "In the Line of Fire."

I feel like trying something new for a change. Let's summarize the movie at face value and go on with the critique later: "In the Line of Fire" is a pretty routine thriller that entertains to a certain extent, but never really takes off like it should. Sure, it's recommendable, but compared to some other recent thrillers, and the potential this one had, it fails to deliver.

It has to do, in part, with the Kennedy assassination, and a cat and mouse game that never really takes off like it should between an ex-assassin named Mitch (John Malkovich) and a Secret Service Agent, Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood), a man who was guarding John F. Kennedy on the tragic day so long ago. Frank is not haunted by the past and determined to stop his new adversary as a way of revisiting his past.

It is the re-election of 1992. The US President is parading around the nation delivering speeches and interviews. This is when Frank receives a disturbingly wicked call from Mitch, who threatens to kill the President. His motive? The US Government has screwed him over. He wants revenge.

Mitch was a trained assassin whom the government tried to get rid of. Now he wants revenge and he is out to prove his point by killing the great nation's leader. Mitch insists that he and Frank are alike. Frank took the blame for the Kennedy assassination even though he was the one who recommended advanced security. There was an assassination attempt on Mitch even though he is an assassin. Perhaps "Ironic Assassinators" would have been a better title for this film. But then with a title like that it probably would have been a straight-to-video release with Kris Kristofferson or something. Anyhow, Frank denies that they have any connection. The phrase, "We're not so different, you and I" has never held a greater meaning.

Mitch has a pretty neat technique--he can alter his appearences almost as well as Jamie Kennedy. He can be a street bum, an overweight businessman, or he can bear a striking resemblance to John Malkovich, so much so that he should win a Special Achievment Oscar for the category Best John Malkovich Lookalike. (And on another note, I'm starting to get tired of John Malkovich -- once he had a movie named after him I knew there would be no turning back.)

Because of Mr. Malkovich's impressive facial alterations, Mr. Eastwood has a pretty hard time nailing him. Even when Mitch calls he has a super-cool device that diverts the tracking systems the police use to a random number. Correct me if I'm wrong: This device cannot possibly be built? If it could be, we'd have seen it in a million other movies by now, trust me.

Rene Russo comes in for a bit of love interest in the movie (attractive female Secret Service Agent -- how convenient!). She's in her thirties, Clint's in his sixties. They kiss and snuggle and she acts like he's some sort of Brad Pitt or Colin Farrell youngin', flaunting him off to her friends like she got some major catch. Yeah, maybe he would have been the catch of the week thirty years ago, lady - but something tells me a young woman like herself wouldn't be attracted to an old guy like him who could be her father. Perhaps it is his giant skin bubbles she finds so attractive? I'm through talking about this.

Clint Eastwood is often considered the thinking man's action hero. He's getting older now - he was 63 then and 73 now - but the films stay the same. This is Dirty Harry with a touch of irony. And it really all depends on if you like Clint, because this is his movie. Malkovich gives a splendidly dark performance as a sicko assassin but the film relies on good ol' Clint for life support. And this movie is just about to go under. It's time to get a new brand of life support devices or we're going to have the worst disaster since "Titanic" -- er, the event, not the movie. Nevermind.
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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