Eastwood Runs For President
I like Clint Eastwood movies and there are only a few which disappoint and thankfully "In the Line of Fire" isn't one of them. It's a clever, entertaining modern thriller with a touch of humour but also one which is action packed without ever ignoring the storyline. But more importantly "In the Line of Fire" gets you on the edge of your seat, desperate to find out where the cat and mouse game between Clint Eastwood's Secret Service Agent Frank and John Malkovich's assassin Mitch will lead.
Veteran Secret Service Agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood - Unforgiven) finds himself back in the fray when he is sent to investigate some unusual activity in an apartment. Discovering the work of a psycho intent on murdering the President, Frank is pushed to the limit both physically and emotionally as he goes back on the Presidential Protection team, something he had done for numerous past presidents including JFK. But not only does he find it tough competing in an agency which almost despises his old fashioned style but also that the psycho Mitch Leary (John Malkovich - Alive) decides to play a game of cat n mouse with him.
It has to be said that the main storyline to "In the Line of Fire" isn't really that amazing, it's almost a formulaic thriller delivering various element's which could have been pinched from various other movies. The roof top chases, the attempts to track down Mitch via phone and so on are all rudimentary plot devices which are seen used over and over again in many a movie. But director Wolfgang Petersen knows how to work them; he knows how to give them an added punch so a thrilling roof top chase has an extra element of surprise to stop it just feeling mundane. He knows how to build tension where you would least expect it and as such makes "In the Line of Fire" much more than most other directors would achieve.
But it is also his control of the whole movie, delivering a perfectly paced drama which gets lively from the injection of action and tension. He finds humour from the flirtations between Frank and secret service agent Lilly as well as delivering a couple of reasonably well disguised twists. He even manages to deliver a little emotion when you don't initially expect it. All in all Petersen works "In the Line of Fire" to perfection ramping up the tension over the duration till it reaches a spectacular crescendo of tension and excitement.
With "In the Line of Fire" Clint Eastwood having grown older embraces his increasing years playing to it so whilst we still have the snarling tough guy to champion we also get one with frailties no longer as fit as those younger Secret Service agents. He gets knocked for six when he becomes ill and has a back log of issues which spill over into his work. It's an enjoyable character and performance delivering every ounce of classic Clint but with a touch of humour and frailty. In those scenes where his almost paranoia takes over as he tries to protect the President is a lesson in character performance.
Opposite you have John Malkovich who oozes every ounce of a cold calculated bad guy that gets as much pleasure from his mission to kill the President as he does with toying with Clint's Frank. It is very much Malkovich's performance which raises "In the Line of Fire" from being just another movie to one with an almost eerie quality in the same manner that Anthony Hopkins made "Silence of the Lambs" so much more.
Also adding their presence is Rene Russo who not only has fun playing the agent who finds Frank's obnoxiousness like a sort of aphrodisiac as they flirt with each other. But is more than just a case of added beauty delivering a good character, quite believable of a Secret Service agent. Plus there is also an impressive cast which also includes Dylan McDermott, Gary Cole, John Mahoney and Fred Dalton Thompson.
What this all boils down to is that "In the Line of Fire" is a very entertaining movie, delivering that edge of the seat thriller you want. It has clever moments, twists as well as a smattering of humour to ease the tension without feeling out of place. With Clint Eastwood being both old fashioned charming yet also snarlingly and obnoxious it has a strong lead but is equally assisted by John Malkovich delivering the cool calculated psycho intent on both murder and playing a game of cat n mouse.