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This review originally appeared in issue 8 of THE CINEMA LASER.


After his Oscar for Best Director, Clint Eastwood had little to prove to anyone, so when he took the lead in Columbia's IN THE LINE OF FIRE ($40), I wasn't expecting too much. Eastwood has been producing, directing and starring in his most recent films; so with him as a hired gun in IN THE LINE OF FIRE, I didn't foresee this as one of the best films of his career.

Eastwood appears as secret service agent Frank Horrigan. Horrigan is something of a living legend, he is the last active agent to have ever lost a President. Horrigan is a very troubled man; he was Kennedy's favorite agent, and he was with Kennedy that November day thirty years ago in Dallas. Horrigan never forgave himself for Kennedy's death. The plot of IN THE LINE OF FIRE centers around a presidential assassin who has decided to play a game of cat and mouse with the secret service, but most especially with Frank Horrigan.

Clint Eastwood turns in an especially fine performance as Frank Horrigan. Eastwood brings to life this man grieving over his past mistakes, and looking to find redemption by saving the life of the current president. I am really surprised that this great performance didn't garner Eastwood an Oscar nomination, perhaps some petty jealousy over last year's Best Director win. Even more surprising is the lack of Best Picture nomination, perhaps the film was snubbed for the same reasons. As for Eastwood's nemesis in the film, John Malkovich is super. As far as I am concerned, Malkovich has been turning in the same performance in every movie that he has appeared. I guess with the law of averages, there eventually would have to be a role perfectly suited to that performance. Malkovich got the nomination for supporting actor­ he does deserves the win, if only for patience and timing. Rene Russo is Eastwood's love interest. Russo portrays a much younger agent, tough, eager and beautiful­ a perfect counterpoint to Eastwood's old dinosaur. Filling out the cast are Dylan McDermott, Gary Cole, Fred Dalton Thompson and John Mahoney.

IN THE LINE OF FIRE has been very slickly produced. Wolfgang Peterson's direction is rock solid and completely draws in the viewer. Anne V. Coates editing is so spectacularly fluid that it causes the film's over two hour running time seem only half as long. John Bailey's Panavision cinematography is exquisite; many sequences are a standout, especially the climax. Ennio Morricone's musical score is one of the best in years. It's powerful, yet it has the kind of subtlety not found in many recent scores.

As for IN THE LINE OF FIRE the Laserdisc, it phenomenal. The Letterboxed transfer almost fully recreates the Panavision ratio, with little loss at the extreme edges of the frame. The color, contrast and detail are first rate. The digitally encoded Dolby Surround is superb­ great ambiance and directionality. Who needs THX­ with discs like this one! The Sony DADC pressing had very few speckles. Columbia/TriStar has encoded IN THE LINE OF FIRE with 59 chapters and side three is CAV.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright © 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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