Absolute Power (15)

Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Judy Davis, Laura Linney

Based on a bestselling book, this film has a great premise. Honourable jewel thief Luther(Eastwood) is robbing a wealthy man's house when a couple enter the bedroom he is burgling. Their love making turns violent and the woman grabs a letter opener to stab the man. At this point two armed men enter and kill her, then proceed to cover up the murder. The twist? The man in question is the president of the USA, and the gunmen were secret service. Luther now must dodge the cops and the secret service, whilst attempting to see justice done, and make up with his estranged daughter Kate(Linney).
Aparently, Clint loved the idea, but was determined Luther would be a good guy, and much of the later part of the film was rewritten. Certainly, the first half of the film is much stronger. The setup of the situation is well handled, and the characters seem interesting. The tension builds well, but Clint the director loses it a bit towards the end. A stake out to catch Luther is ludicrously overlong while the tying up of loose ends is done with incredible haste and far from convincingly.
This is a top class cast, featuring Hackman and Harris, two of the best screen actors around, and other talented actors like Scott Glenn and Dennis Haysbert as the secret service men, Judy Davis as a slightly comedic chief of staff, and the fast rising Laura Linney, who always impresses me. However, Hackman is CRIMINALLY wasted! He gets to play a graphic sex'n'violence scene, but then only has one worthwhile scene- an encounter that sizzles with menace when Davis approaches him for a dance after being tricked into thinking he has a thing for her. Hackman is so good that this dance reveals a hell of a lot about his ruthless president. Eastwood himself is OK, and his character a real angel, even if he is a thief. The relationship between Luther and his daughter is well played, and an intriguingly interesting one. All these hero types always have SOME sort of family trouble though.
This was an enjoyable film, largely because of the story, but also because of the excellent cast. It has excitement and tension and a believable set of characters. It could have been better paced, and the story wobbles near the end but a good thriller. 7/10.

June 1997

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