This academy award nominated thriller is far from a classic, but Peterson gives us an entertaining film with more brains than your average Hollywood action flick. Clint Eastwood plays an ageing Secret Service agent tasked with stopping the president from being asassinated by John Malkovich.
The plot is run of the mill stuff and holds few surprises but it does work in keeping us interested, especially from a procedural point of view. The Secret Service is not often covered in such films, and we do get to see the ‘cops and robbers’ story in a slightly different light.
Eastwood is at times convincing and genuinely jaded, at times wooden and almost ridiculous. I know as a director he likes to work fast and be done by lunchtime, I wonder if he applied the same work ethic to this film; some scenes really felt like a first take. Malkovich is creepy as ever and pulls the film up at its weakest moments.
I have to mention the ridiculous romance with Rene Russo. They have no chemistry on screen at all and it’s one of the most forced relationships I’ve seen in an action film. It’s not just that she’s 20 years younger than him (although that doesn’t help), they just have no time to bond. The opening scene shows Eastwood and his partner in a sticky situation. It’s also a little forced since it bears no relation to anything that follows, but it reveals so much about the characters it was worth leaving in. Their relationship has some foundation. Compare that with Russo and Eastwood, who get to know each other through ‘witty’ flirting and nothing more. She’s pretty, he’s a man (‘the man’); it must be love.
All in all if you’re bored on a wet Sunday this is a fun film, and in some scenes you’ll see Eastwood doing what he does best.
As a side note: This got TWO Oscar nominations, and has a 95% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave it 3.5/4 stars. Seems so weird for such a distinctly average (and forgettable) film.