Review of In the Line of Fire
With a Special edition coming out, with added bells and whistles, it`s worth it to look at the original release to see what can be improved upon, and most of all is it worth upgrading. In the Line of Fire was a 1993 thriller about an attempted assassination of the US President.
Frank Horrigan is an aging secret service agent, whose only problem is a rookie partner, Al that he has to nursemaid. However, Frank`s past is somewhat more chequered. He was once part of the protective detail for John F Kennedy, and was there on that fateful day in Dallas in 1963 and failed to act as the president was assassinated. Frank`s life takes a turn for the worse when, investigating a routine call regarding a possible threat to the current President, he happens upon something more sinister than a prank call or idle threat. Someone has made a shrine to the assassination of JFK, and in a subsequent call to Frank, the stranger threatens the president. Seeing an opportunity to redeem himself, Frank gets himself assigned to the president`s protective detail while his partner remains in Washington to investigate the potential assassin. Frank definitely feels his age trying to keep up with the motorcade, but manages to find the energy to flirt with fellow agent, Lilly Raines. Things become more sinister as the character of the would-be assassin is revealed. The situation becomes ever more tense as lives are lost and the stakes are raised, and Frank comes into conflict with his superiors as he becomes overzealous in the lengths he will go to protect the president.
This is a single layer disc, with just the bare bones on it, which no doubt has led to the special edition to be released. The picture is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, and for such an old release, (DVD released in1998) is a top-notch transfer. The image is very clear and sharp with lots of lush colour. I can`t think of anything detracting to say about it. The film is competently directed by Wolfgang Peterson, who keeps notching up the tension when required.
The sound is impressive also. You have a choice of Dolby Surround or DD 5.1 English soundtracks and the surrounds are used well and often. This is a film that relies heavily on dialogue, with rare moments of action and the disc is fine in that respect. The music is excellent, being composed by Ennio Morricone, and the action is reminiscent of the work he did for The Untouchables, but there is a gentle feel that dominates the other scenes which is appropriate to the mood of the film.
There are absolutely no extras with this film, save for the old advert for DVD technology that was made by Columbia Tristar a few years ago. More significantly, there are no subtitles at all, which is an oversight that should be remedied in the re-release.
Clint Eastwood stars as Frank Horrigan, and the characterisation is excellent. A jazz fan with a wry sense of humour, burdened by a monumental failure, the character is fully fleshed and you are definitely sympathetic towards him. His scenes with Rene Russo, Lilly are excellent, with both actors having a delicate touch for romance and the casual flirting that deepens their relationship is wonderfully observed. Normally such an age gap between romantic leads leaves me gritting my teeth, but here it is part of the story, and never prurient. John Malkovich is the bad guy, and is simply chilling. I won`t go into his character, as that is pivotal to the story, suffice it to say that he is all too believable in his motivations.
The big problem with thrillers is, the fact that after the first viewing, the attraction wears off. All the twists have been uncovered and the exciting ending is no longer anticipated. Then the thriller has to stand on its replay value. So the question is, why would you want to watch In The Line Of Fire more than once? For one thing the story is excellent, and consistently entertaining. The characters are excellent, and the interactions between them are carefully observed. The psychological brinkmanship between Horrigan and the assassin played out over several phone calls, is inspired and well worth seeing again. Two actors of the calibre of Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich do much to elevate this film over a lot of the usual thrillers we get. Finally for such a tense thriller there are moments of humour, and the backstory of Lilly and Franks relationship to keep the attention. Knocking a point off, for replay value, is this film worth getting? If like me, you`re not interested in this particular title for extras and the like, and if you can put up with the appalling lack of subtitles, the presentation of the film is top-notch, and it should be dirt cheap by now. Well worth it.