a critiQal film review In the Line of Fire (1993)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: An aging Secret Service agent, Frank Horrigan (Eastwood), is taunted by calls from a would-be killer (Malkovich) who has detailed information about Frank - including the fact that he failed to save President John F. Kennedy from assassination. The caller is revealed as an ex-CIA assassin, and Frank, who is investigating a threat to the current president, is determined not to let history repeat itself.

445 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 13s)
  • ...the film lends a solid backdrop to Eastwood and Malkovich's mind game of good vs evil.

Looking for an older film to review, we ran across In the Line of Fire, the Clint Eastwood/John Malkovich starrer of 1993. Since we hadn’t seen this film in years, we remembered very little, except that it was a solid pic. Would our new viewing of this thriller still leave the film in a good light? Or has age drawn out the flaws in In the Line of Fire?

Clint Eastwood, known for his westerns and his iconic Dirty Harry portrayal, takes the lead in the film. Aging and not quite as active as he used to be (he was 62 at the time of filming), Eastwood still brings a commanding presence to the screen, and delivers another solid performance. While not as impressive as his role the year before in Unforgiven (1992), he’s a smart choice for In the Line of Fire, and gives the audience a believable character once again.

John Malkovich, as the villain of the pic, also does a solid job in the role. While his performance may be more fun in future films like Red (2010), he delivers a valid threat to the hero, and viewers will be eager to see what happens when the film culminates in an Eastwood/Malkovich showdown.

Rene Russo is decent enough as the female agent in charge, but the romance aspect she gets wrapped up in seems a bit awkward, but thankfully that doesn’t take up much time in the film. Sure, it seems contrived and silly, but it lends itself to a couple of decent sequences that couldn’t have happened without it, so that seems like a win anyway.

While In the Line of Fire is full of action film cliches, the film plays out as a much more sinister mind game between hero and villain than most action pics even try at. The continuous taunting by the villain gets into our hero’s head, and even, on occasion, gets the best of him. It does cause a bit of a slowdown in the action, but that slow build-up of tension will keep viewers sticking around for the finale with baited breath – a much more thrilling experience than most fast-paced shoot-em-ups.

In the Line of Fire has a solid and varied supporting cast, but really it’s all about the cat-and-mouse game between stars Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich, and the film knows it. Rather than interfering, it lets the odd relationship develop between hero and villain, and does it’s best to keep everyone else relegated to a back seat. With a decent storyline and these two performers facing off nicely, In the Line of Fire is a solid, enjoyable, thriller from start to finish.

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