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I Can't Look Away
mattymatt3026 March 2004
'In the Line of Fire' is one of those Hollywood films that shows up on tv quite a bit, but although I've seen it a few times, I usually end up sitting through the whole thing again. Why? - It's GOOD! Clint Eastwood is great as usual, and the character he plays is interesting and more fleshed out than usual. The character, Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan, is haunted by the fact that he was on the detail that failed to protect President Kennedy in Dallas, and now he's forced to match wits with a professional assassin that is openly declaring that he will kill the president. However, the film doesn't make him a depressed, brooding, and obsessed character. He's charming and personable, and is realistic as a guy that has experienced a lot in life and is comfortable in his own skin. He's even quite convincing when he flirts with the pretty younger agent played by Rene Russo. The killer, played by John Malkovich at his best, is cerebral, deliberate, and enjoys playing high stakes games of life and death. He even goes by the name of another presidential assassin, John Booth.

The film is consistently enjoyable, and it delivers all the goods - suspense, action, romance, and drama - all in their proper amounts. It's a fun film that is really helped by the great actors in it!
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Underrated Thriller
RChatterjee8114 October 2004
Quite simply a well-made, well-written and wonderfully acted movie. Eastwood is classic as grizzled Secret Service Agent Frank Horrigan and Rene Russo

holds her own as partner (and love interest) Lilly Raines. But the movie's

greatness rests on the shoulders of John Malkovich as "Booth". He captures

this character's rage and hatred, as well as his humanity oddly enough.

Personally I think this was his best performance and should have received an

Oscar for it (But I loved Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive as well that year). Overall a great movie to see you want to peek into an assassin's mind and be

on the edge of your seat the whole way through. Enjoy!!
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Peterson and Eastwood make a great team
SmileysWorld11 January 2002
Clint Eastwood scores big in this thriller from 1993.Teamed with an absolute master of edge of your seat suspense,Wolfgang Peterson, Eastwood delivers as only he can.Also,John Malkovich goes on my list of most effective screen villains in the history of cinema as the demented assassin.As for Rene Russo as Clint's love interest,I think Kirk Douglas said it best when he said,referring to his own career,"I keep getting older,and my leading ladies keep getting younger".This film is a very effective thriller with enough plot twists and surprises to keep you going.Eastwood and Peterson should team together more often. Top notch movie.
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Crackling excitement!
bat-531 July 1999
In The Line of Fire gives us a great game of cat and mouse. Clint Eastwood is plagued by John Malkovich in this riveting film. Malkovich says he's going to kill the president, and he purposely calls Eastwood, and pushes his buttons. He questions Eastwood's ability to protect someone. Malkovich brings a cold, but very intelligent mindset to his character. Everything he does, he does for a reason, and he's not shy about killing. Eastwood has to overcome the suspicions of his superiors in order to catch Malkovich, but no one wants to listen to him. The result is a film that crackles with suspense that escalates to a tense scene in a ballroom at the Bonneventure Hotel. Wolfgang Peterson ratchets up the tension and we feel every turn.
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Top Thriller
mjw230514 January 2007
Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) is a secret service agent plagued with guilt over the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, while he was on duty. Thirty years later and the current president is entering a re-election campaign, but he is receiving death threats; and Horrigan has been called in to assist in what should be a routine research operation. John Malkovich plays the professional assassin and master of disguise who is tracking the president, and using the past he begins to torture Horrigan in a psychological duel of cat and mouse.

Malkovich, Eastwood and Rene Russo all give wonderful performances in this top notch thriller. The direction is excellent and the entire picture is charged with tension and intrigue throughout.

A must see for thriller fans 8/10
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Satisfactory Condition
rmax30482328 April 2002
This is another of Eastwood's many movies mixing intrigue, action, and a dollop of romance, along with "The Gauntlet," "Firefox," and so forth. Clint's acting range by now is pretty familiar. In this one, he's taciturn and a bit outrageous, especially with women and superiors. There are no surprises in his performance. But the film itself is something of a surprise; it's above average.

Clint is Frank, a Secret Service agent who, perhaps in a moment of doubt, failed to catch the bullet that killed JFK. He then took to drink, which drove his family away, and now plods along in the bureaucracy until he is contacted by John Malkovitch, calling himself "Booth," who strikes up a sort of skewed relationship with him based on their shared, disillusioned conviction that everything is meaningless except the impulse to escape dreariness and predictability. Now, this is rather an anfractuous set of attitudes for a performer like Clint to project, but he does rather well, less robotic than usual. And he does seem to carry around with him, like a burden of stone, the memory of that moment in Dallas.

He's tested again halfway through this movie. He is hanging from the roof of a tall building, grasping Booth's hand, and he pulls his pistol and points it at Booth, who asks him if he is really willing to shoot. If he does, of course, he saves the president from an attempted assassination by a CIA-trained murderer, but he does so at the cost of his own life. Booth twits him about the situation as they hold hands in midair.

Later Clint even has a short speech, talking to Renee Russo, about his failure to save the president in Dallas. "If I'd have reacted quickly enough, I could have taken that shot . . . and that would have been alright with me." It's underplayed, but his voice chokes slightly, his eyes water, and his lip trembles. It's one of the few scenes in any of Clint's films that might properly be called "moving." We know from his newfound resolve that given another chance he would take the bullet this time. (The irony is that he doesn't like the current president. Who could? He gives pompous speeches in Colorado about how they "carved a nation out of the wilderness." Didn't they do the same thing in Las Vegas?)

It's often said that a movie is only as good as its villain. It isn't true, nothing is that simple, but an argument could be made for its truth value in this case. The reptilian John Malkovitch with his Tartar eyes is marvelous.

Talk about disillusioned. Okay, he can ham it up a little, sniffing with disdain even as he plugs two innocent hunters between the eyes, but he's fascinating on the screen. Renee Russo has little do to. Fred Thompson, as the chief White House aid, is now back in politics, a relief for movie-goers. If Clint's acting range is limited, Thompson's is something less. In every film he's been in, he wears the same solemn and dissatisfied expression, as if constantly plagued by some form of volcanic digestive disorder.

The direction by Wolfgang Peterson is as good as it was in "Das Boot," which is pretty good. There is a great deal of the usual suspenseful cross-cutting in the final shootout. And when Clint and Russo fall into an impassioned embrace in her hotel room and scuttle backwards towards the bed like two weasels in heat, Peterson playfully shows us their feet along with a succession of objects dropping to the floor -- not only the usual garments but handcuffs, guns, beepers, palm pilots, Dick Tracy wrist watches and other impedimenta. Interrupted, Clint lies back on the bed and sighs, "Now I have to put all that stuff back on again."

Well written and worth watching.
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Right on target
Dodger-98 November 2000
Clint Eastwood could do no wrong in the early Nineties.

Hot on the heels of Unforgiven, he teamed up with The Perfect Storm director Wolfgang Petersen for one of the best thrillers of the decade - In the Line of Fire.

Imagine a cross between The Day of the Jackal and The Bodyguard and you get the idea.

Hollywood's craggiest leading man plays Frank Horrigan, a troubled bodyguard assigned to protect the US president against a psychopathic assassin.

John Malkovich delivers a stunning performance as the man on the end of the trigger and acclaimed German director Petersen directs with such skill, Eastwood even asked his advice when he came to direct A Perfect World.

Clint was 63 when he made this and brought a lifetime of experience to the role of a world weary Secret Service agent haunted by the fact he failed to save President Kennedy from the fatal bullet.

The clever use of a doctored photo by Hollywood whiz kids shows the actor/director stood at the side of JFK. A nice touch which is well worth looking out for.

To be honest, ITLOF is a cliched thriller, the sort of story which crops up most weeks as a glossy, no brain offering on Channel 5.

However, both director and stars took the well worn material and gave it a fresh spin, upping the tension several notches with each passing scene, resulting in a spectacular finale which is great value for money.

Rene Russo is so good she could play the part in her sleep. The former model adds a degree of mature charm to her role of an agent who Horrigan believes is mere `window dressing' for the department.

As with all of Wolfgang's movies, believability is everything. A rare degree of authenticity was achieved during the crowd scenes when the German film-maker integrated his fictitious President with the crowds from the Clinton and Bush election campaign.

The cost? A cool $4million.

The script had been knocking around Hollywood for a decade before it was dusted down and given a green light. It was originally to star Dustin Hoffman (who signed up for Petersen's follow up, Outbreak).

British director Michael Apted (The World is Not Enough) was due to direct the Hoffman version, but when David Puttnam took over as the head of Columbia in 1987, the movie was put on hold.

Producer Jeff Apple (a man more known in the trade for his interactive shopping shows than films) brought in Jeff Maguire to polish up the script.

The idea of Horrigan as an agent who failed to stop JFK's untimely death gave the movie a twist that Hollywood execs found delicious.

Before long, there was a feeding frenzy over the new, improved script and eventually, Rob Reiner's Castle Rock company snapped it up for a million dollars with Clint Eastwood on board.

Petersen had wanted Harrison Ford, but eventually cast him as the President in Air Force One (which you may remember was the film of the week a couple of weeks ago).

As any Clint fan knows, he's a jazz fan - a passion shared by Horrigan in what seemed to be a tailor made role adapted for old Mr Squinty after he signed on the dotted line.

However, Frank's love of piano and jazz was already on the page - a happy accident which helped turn Horrigan into one of Clint's most likeable big screen characters.

Top drawer stuff.
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It's fannntastic!
arthurclay25 May 2005
A great performance by Clint Eastwood and particularly John Malkovich in my opinion his finest one to date. Malkovich had this one nailed right down to the floor it's incredible. Eastwood is Agent Mike Horrigan, an aged and cynical Secret Service Agent who is finishing out his career busting counterfeiters and chasing down routine assignments. But one assignment which appears to be run of the mill at first turns complicated and deadly serious. Horrigan and his new partner Al are sent to investigate a threat on the President by a "wacko". As fate would have it Horrigan has stumbled not upon a delusional nut but a professional lone wolf who has a big bone to pick with the White House. As Horrigan dives deeper into "Booth's" world he attracts the bad guy's unwanted attention and unbridled admiration for him. Horrigan was JFK's top agent and present in Dallas, Texas when he was assassinated and blames himself for what happened. Now he feels it's up to him to stop the current Head of State from joining the list of dead Presidents. But this killer has turned the tables on Horrigan and now he's the hunted one in a life or death cat and mouse game. Who will win? Who will die? It's a race against time to save the Pres from a chameleon-like enemy who can get to anyone. My favorite Secret Service movie and as good a nail biter as any.
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Malkovich makes this an above-average thriller
Panterken18 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
'In The Line Of Fire' tells the story of the game between an old presidential bodyguard and a former-government assassin turned psycho. The secret service agent/bodyguard (Eastwood) is on defense and the assassin (Malkovich)is on offense. The stakes? The president's live.

I really like this movie...I've seen it numerous times on TV and have recently bought it on DVD. Yet, it's not an excellent movie. The plot is way too thin and the attempts to thicken it are downright ridiculous. The whole love-story isn't very plausible and the way they brought an extra character into the story, just to be able to kill it off is kind of insulting to the more or less intelligent viewer. Though I feel these mistakes can't be forgiven, I can easily look past them to Mr. Malkovich exquisite performance. I've always deemed him to be a great actor but in this movie he's really on fire. There's a reason why he got an Academy Award nomination. Rene Russo and Clint Eastwood were okay, but I don't deem their performance to be memorable. They're never at the best of their abilities.

If you don't expect too much, you'll certainly like this movie. It's no masterpiece but John Malkovich is really extraordinary and I don't think anyone can't enjoy his performance. Really worth the watch...
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A Crackling Thriller!!
claudonio26 January 2000
"In the Line Of Fire" is an expertly crafted thriller that has a fantastic climax. The film starts building suspense a half hour into the movie and it doesn't let up until the final scene. Clint Eastwood does exceptional work as does John Malkovich as the villian, the rest of the cast turns in good performances as well. Director Wolfgang Peterson knows how to build suspense and he does it extremely well, he also directed another top notch suspense thriller "Air Force One."
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Haunted Horrigan Seeks Redemption
seymourblack-112 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"In The Line Of Fire" is a real crowd-pleaser that contains plenty of action, suspense and humour but also distinguishes itself from most similar thrillers because of its engaging plot, its well fleshed-out characters and its excellent dialogue. Its greatest asset, however, is its totally deranged villain who plans to assassinate the President. His dual with a tough but vulnerable secret service agent is at the heart of virtually everything that happens and provides the movie with much of its impetus as well as some interesting insights into the psychological preoccupations of the two men.

Veteran secret service agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) is haunted by the memory of the day in November 1963 when he was guarding President Kennedy but failed to save him from being assassinated. That incident left him doubting whether he had the courage needed to risk his own life to save the President's and the guilt that he'd suffered since led him to drinking too much and suffering the breakdown of his marriage. When he receives a phone call from a man who threatens to kill the President, Horrigan seizes the opportunity to return to the Presidential Protection Detail because doing so could offer him the chance to redeem himself.

The potential assassin turns out to be a disillusioned ex-CIA agent called Mitch Leary (John Malkovich) who's very bitter about the way he'd been treated by the government and is seeking to take revenge by killing the President. He's obviously read a great deal about Horrigan's background and sees certain parallels in their experiences. Leary is very cool, clever and cunning and clearly has the ability to carry out his threat. He's also determined and recognises that he has "a rendezvous with death".

In his new role, Horrigan starts a relationship with a fellow agent, Lilly Raines (Rene Russo) and also runs into trouble with the Presidential Chief Of Staff, Harry Sargent (Fred Dalton Thompson) who orders him off the Detail when he raises the alarm at one of the President's re-election rallies after mistaking the sound of a bursting balloon for a gun shot. Horrigan then takes matters into his own hands and pursues his quarry until they eventually confront each other in the movie's exciting climax.

In a movie which is full of good performances, the contributions of Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich stand out. Frank Horrigan is something of a misfit among his colleagues due to his age, his sexism and his lack of fitness which becomes most apparent when he runs breathlessly alongside the President's car. He knows he's seen as a "borderline burn-out with questionable social skills" but also knows that his instincts are intact and despite being regarded as a dinosaur and being subjected to Leary's mind games, knows he has the experience and confidence to hunt down his adversary.

Clint Eastwood, in one of his most subtle performances, strikes the perfect balance in portraying his piano-playing tough guy's interesting combination of strengths and weaknesses and John Malkovich is wonderfully creepy as the dangerous psychopath whose CIA training and brilliant use of disguises make him a formidable threat and just the type of top class villain that this superior thriller deserves.
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Making It Personal
bkoganbing10 June 2009
Back when I was working person, I remember having a really obnoxious client to deal with who insisted on making everything on a personal basis. I was telling him things that my agency could do and could not do and he firmly believed I was personally out to do him out of what was rightfully his. I swear but I was thinking of this guy as I watched John Malkovich and Clint Eastwood in their battle of wits.

In The Line Of Fire casts Clint Eastwood as a veteran Secret Service Agent who was on the job in Dallas as a young man when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He's had his doubts ever since and been given to drink and his life at one time was a real shambles. He's gotten back on the White House detail now and when a potential assassin's landlady rats on her tenant to the Secret Service, it's Eastwood and partner Dylan McDermott who draw the case.

But the assassin is no ordinary crank case. He's a professional at his job, trained by and used by the Central Intelligence Agency. John Malkovich earned a deserved Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He lost that year to Tommy Lee Jones for The Fugitive and I'm not sure, but that I thought Malkovich was better.

Oddly enough Malkovich might have been better off, but he saw Eastwood as the agent in charge breaking into his apartment while on the job and he insisted on making the whole thing personal. He calls Eastwood throughout the film and taunts him. And after a while what Malkovich says and does causes Clint to get real personal.

The presidential assassins we've had in our history have been lucky amateurs, unless you believe in some of the conspiracy theories about some of the assassinations. A guy like Malkovich, a professional with a real or imagined grudge, is the most dangerous kind of foe.

Others to note in the cast are Fred Dalton Thompson as the White House chief of staff (and would be president in real life), Rene Russo as another agent who falls for the Eastwood masculine charm, John Mahoney as the Secret Service head, Gary Cole as the White House head Secret Service guy, Gregory-Alan Williams as another agent and Jim Curley and Sally Hughes as the President and First Lady.

But when Malkovich is on he owns In The Line Of Fire. The climax with him and Eastwood is unforgettable.
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Top notch Eastwood & unforgettably venal Malkovich
george.schmidt10 April 2003
IN THE LINE OF FIRE (1993) ***1/2 Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Dylan McDermott, John Mahoney, Gary Cole, Fred Dalton Thompson. Absorbing cat-and-mouse psychological action/thriller with Secret Service agent Eastwood tormented by sociopath Malkovich who plans to assassinate The President of The United States. Swiftly directed by Wolfgang Petersen and compelling performances by the leads makes for an affectively entertaining experience.
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Great Thriller!
g-bodyl19 December 2011
Even at 62 years of age, Clint Eastwood still has what it takes to be in a successful action thriller such as this. Not only was he in an action movie, he did very well. I really enjoyed the film from start to finish because of Eastwood and the villain played by John Malkovich.

This is about an aging Secret Service guy who is haunted by his past. That past urges him to keep the current President safe at all costs with election nearing. Even if that means playing a cat-and-mouse game with someone who wants to kill the President.

As I said previously, Eastwood did very well. Even better is John Malkovich. I can't decide on who plays the better villain, Malkovich or Gary Oldman. But anyway, Malkovich is very creepy as the villain.

Overall, this is a top-notch thriller. There are plenty of action, thrills, and even a little romance. I rate this film 9/10.
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Malkovich Steals The Show
ccthemovieman-19 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Here's another entertaining Clint Eastwood action-suspense film. I am not a particularly fan of his but I have to hand to him: he knows how to make entertaining movies. This is one more example. It didn't hurt, either, to have John Malkovich as his co-star. Now there is an intense actor! In this story, Malkovich plays an assassin, and he is fascinating to watch, thanks to his different disguises and the terrific dialog he was given. He also has a interesting voice.

Rene Russo is fairly low-key (for her), but that's fine and Eastwood plays the usual loner-cop role, not appreciated by his superiors but showing them all up in the end. I guess he couldn't stop playing the "Dirty Harry"-type figures, but he played them well.

There were some negatives this film, however, namely: credibility in parts as there were a couple of times, had this been real-life, the killer would have done away with Eastwood. The climatic scene, in particularly, had too many holes in it. There also were too many abuses of Lord's name in vain in here.

Overall, however, this is good, escapist fare.
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Excellent, suspenseful, and edge-of-your-seat action/drama/thriller!
Catherine_Grace_Zeh17 November 2005
IN THE LINE OF FIRE, in my opinion, is an excellent, suspenseful, and edge-of-your-seat action/drama/thriller! I thought that Agent Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) and Agent Raines (Rene Russo) looked good in the attire they wore at the presidential dinner. As for Leary (John Malkovich), he was a sick man who loved to toy with Frank by phone. He looked good in the tuxedo he wore near the end of the film, though. One thing that surprised me was the growing attraction between Agent Horrigan and Agent Raines. Before I wrap this up, I'd like to say that the entire cast and crew did an outstanding job, I loved the setting, and I couldn't get enough of it. Now, in conclusion, to all you Clint Eastwood fans who haven't seen this excellent, suspenseful, and edge-of-your-seat action/drama/thriller, I highly recommend it.
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How Do You Follow Up A Movie Like Unforgiven
slightlymad2213 April 2017
Continuing my plan to watch every Clint Eastwood movie in order, I come to In The Line Of Fire (1993)

Plot In A Paragraph: Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan (Eastwood) couldn't save Kennedy, but he's determined not to let a clever assassin (John Malcovic) take out this president.

In my my review of The Rookie, I said there was nothing new to see, and In The Line of Fire has a story similar to many of Eastwood's Dirty Harry movies, in which a psycho killer plays games with the cop, who is ordered off the case and then continues to investigate it anyway, regardless of what his superiors say, and he is helped by a loyal partner. The movie even supplies Clint with two partners.

However, despite the routine plot, In The Line Of Fire is not a rehash or retread of something we have seen before and it's not predictable (OK some of it is) what it is, is a tight, tense, well acted, well directed thriller, and whilst most action/thrillers these days are about stunts and action. In Tue Line Of Fire has a brain, and it sits in my Top 10 Eastwood movies.

In my review of The Rookie, I also said a movie is only as good as their villains, and In the Line of Fire has a great one in John Malkovic, who was deservedly nominated for an Oscar.

The one aspect of the movie I didn't like was the love story between Cline (62) and Rene Russo (39) it was totally unbelievable and out of place.

Clint was on a roll as In The Line Of Fire became Clint's biggest grossing movie to date, grossing $102 million dollars at the domestic box office to end the year as the 7th highest grossing movie of 1993. It was Clint's first in the Top 10 grossing movies of the year in a decade. It would sadly be the last time (to date) that a movie starring Clint made the Top 10.
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A decent psychological thriller with some minor plotting problems
jimbo-53-18651120 December 2015
Secret Service Agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) is still plagued with anxieties 30 years after the death of President Kennedy. Horrigan felt that he could have done more to try to prevent Kennedy from being assassinated and continues to blame himself for this tragic occurrence. 30 years later, Horrigan finds himself being taunted by a man who tells him that he is going to kill the president. In order to prevent another assassination, Horrigan sets to work in trying to discover the identity of the would be assassin whilst doing his utmost to protect the President.

I've mentioned in my summary that there were some minor plotting problems with this film so I will address these issues first; it's established early in the film that Horrigan blames himself for Kennedy's death and sees this assassination attempt as a means to prove to himself, and to everyone else, that he can adequately protect the President. OK, that's fine, but I wasn't completely taken with the way that the story was set-up (it came across to me as Horrigan being on some kind of self-pitying guilt trip). This is only a minor problem because despite this Horrigan is still focused on the job at hand and therefore it's still very easy to develop a rooting interest in his character - I only wish the story would have been set-up in a different way. I also felt that Leary's (John Malkovich) motivations were a little thin and not entirely believable. The pacing of the film is also a little uneven. Now for the good bits....

Where the film is at its strongest is in the various scenes between Horrigan and Leary. In these scenes, a slow-burning psychological battle of wits begins to develop between the two men (Leary clearly has the upper hand at the start, but Horrigan's dogged determination soon sees him begin to close the gap). Director Wolfgang Peterson makes many of these scenes cold and menacing by not showing all of Leary's face at the start - yes it's not original, but it's simple, effective and helps to create tension. The screenplay is also relatively clever and had enough intelligence and depth to make sure that my interest never truly waned.

The performances across the board are variable, but once again it's John Malkovich that steals the show from everyone here. Malkovich is one of my favourite actors and his sociopathic performance here was wonderful to watch. Eastwood is also good here and I liked the way that the writers made his character feel believable - he was in his early 60's when this was made and therefore his character is human here rather than super human (he has heart problems and fitness issues) which makes sense given his age and his lengthy career in a somewhat stressful job.

In The Line Of Fire is a very good film that is exciting, suspenseful and intense. There are also very few dull spots which isn't bad considering its running time. It's a race against time film/psychological thriller and the two elements mix well together creating a very impressive film.
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A Cat and Mouse Thriller That Intensifies to a Dramatic Climax
romanorum125 November 2014
Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood), a veteran US secret service agent, has never recovered from that fateful day (22 November 1963) when President John F. Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald at his watch. Blaming himself for not reacting sooner and taking the fateful bullet, Horrigan became occasionally brooding and turned to liquor, actions that drove away his wife and daughter. He stayed in the bureaucracy though and requests an assignment to protect the latest president thirty years after the Catastrophe in Dallas. Now in his early sixties, the grizzled and intense Horrigan questions his own decision and forms doubts whether he still has the physical vigor to stand up to the job demands. Secret Service Director Sam Campagna (John Mahoney) backs him and grants his request, but Assistant Director Bill Watts (Gary Cole), although reluctantly agreeing to the new assignment, is so strongly against Horrigan that he revels in his apparent faux pas (like running out of breath while running alongside the presidential vehicle). Chief of Staff Harry Sargent (Fred Dalton Thompson) is similarly not in Horrigan's corner. The president is facing a very difficult reelection campaign, and Sargent does not want him to look awkwardly or cowardly in the face of potential danger.

Mitch Leary (John Malcovitch), a trained operative for the CIA who was laid off, claims he was double-crossed by the US government and wants revenge. What is this loose cannon's plan? He longs to kill the current president (Jim Curley, code name "Traveler"). Calling himself "Booth" (after you know whom) he takes the offensive and continually torments Horrigan on the telephone, explaining exactly what he intends to do. Booth had studied Frank Horrigan for years, and is so clever and conditioned and twisted that he is able to burrow deeply into the latter's mind. A master of disguise, Booth continually toys with Horrigan, recounting parallels in their life experiences. At other times, he creates bummers. For example, consider the scene when President Curley is holding an AFL-CIO rally in Chicago. Booth uses pins to pop display balloons, badgering Horrigan into believing that gunshots are being fired. Horrigan's actions caused disruption and humiliated the president, although the agent did show his self-assurance and quick reaction, and was even willing to take a hit for "Traveler." Now Frank has a partner, Al D'Andrea (Dylan McDermott), and the two of them had undermined a deadly band of Phoenix counterfeiters early in the film. D'Andrea, though, is fated for a different destiny even though for more than two-thirds of the film Horrigan and he tail Leary. The psychopath divulges that he could have killed Horrigan many times but left him alone ("I have allowed you to live so you show me some g**damn respect!"). And at one point the aging Horrigan nearly perishes from a rooftop fall. Now when the denouement eventually arrives, will he have the efficacy to save the president?

Malcovitch's acting is always of high quality. He is just so believable as a creep that one almost begins to hate him. Rene Russo may have come late to Hollywood (in her later thirties), but she already had polished acting tools and looks to match. Her role here is Lilly Raines, a capable and strong agent herself who is on presidential protection detail; later she becomes Horrigan's younger lover. Of course the beginning was rocky, especially after Horrigan made several offensive statements. But Raines eventually saw his masculine sensitivity, charm, and his real respect for her, and she shows her own capacity to fall in love.

This movie is a nice vehicle for Eastwood, a good actor who easily handles similar roles. Director Wolfgang Petersen created a competent film with a novel idea of a man obsessed with his inability to save a past president from a real, historical assassination. Those pictures and footages (digital effects) of a young Horrigan inserted into actual pictures of Kennedy are believable. Also, the sets are convincing (White House, Air Force One, police escort, rallies). The only drawback may be that the movie runs a few minutes too long. Recommended.
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Suspenseful presidential thriller!
OllieSuave-00721 February 2014
This is a suspenseful thriller involving Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood), who is haunted by his failure to save President Kennedy while on duty in Dallas. Thirty years later, a psychotic and loner named Mitch "Booth" Leary (John Malkovich) threatens the life of the current President, and Horrigan decides to confront his past and protect the President at all costs.

This movie is full of edge-of-your-seat excitement as Horrigan tries to track down Leary, and is an fascinating roller coaster ride in every scene involving the President, making you wonder if danger will strike.

I think the acting was superb, and I especially liked the chemistry between Clint and Rene Russo, whose character understands Horrigan. She gives the film the right amount of drama where appropriate. Arrogance never sits well with me, which is why I despised Gary Cole's character, Bill Watts. If Clint would have knocked him a few rounds, this film would have been a more satisfying viewing pleasure. In addition to the intensive thrills and drama, this movie could have used some more action scenes - lots of all talk and no action, But, what made up for it is the high-tension climax.

Overall, a pretty fascinating thriller with some of Eastwood's best work.

Grade B
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In the line of fire misses the mark...
darin-wissbaum8 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
As much as I like Clint Eastwood I have to say this was not his finest hour. This film was filled with way too many mistakes that also took one too many liberties with the facts. Clint Eastwood plays Frank Harrigan a Secret Service agent that at one time was assigned to protect President Kennedy. When President Kennedy was assassinated frank felt he did not do his duty by protecting the President and has carried the guilt ever since. Now 30 years have passed and Frank Harrigan is still a Secret Service agent again assigned to protect the President, and this time he will not make the same mistakes. Here is the first problem I have with this film. Frank had a lot of health problems being an old man now, and at one point while running along the President's Limo he can be seen coughing and gagging barely able to keep up. Now do you really think that such an old tired sick man would be allowed to protect the president? I don't think so. The second problem is Rene Russo's character as Special Agent Lilly Raines. She serves no useful purpose except to look sexy for the camera, and there is even an absurd scene where she is on duty in a tight dress (which the secret service would have never allowed) and Frank asked here where her gun is hidden and she replies, " Wouldn't you like to know." Give me a break. Of course we know there will be an attempt on the President life in which sick tired old man frank with redeem himself.

The only standout in this film was the performance of John Malkovich as the would be assassin. Other than that avoid this mess...
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the not-quite Dirty Harry for the 90s; a sinister blockbuster
Quinoa19849 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Wolfgang Peterson's In the Line of Fire is cunning and occasionally a truly white-knuckled ride, even if once or twice we might feel like we've been down similar roads before. How could one not when Clint Eastwood, right after (allegedly) closing the book on his western legacy, likely closes the one on his gritty detective pictures (don't count Blood Work in there). But there's more than that because Eastwood's character, here a hard-bitten, demon-ridden and hard as nails secret service agent, has a slightly charming side to him, even the more romantic side that one never got to see in the pictures where he spouted his trademark lines. There is some complexities going on here that don't rely on just the usual swagger, and it's note-worthy for how such a possibly contrived back story (didn't save Kennedy from being assassinated in 63) is made somewhat believable amidst the rest of his persona, which more than likely hides his wounds- most of the time. Eastwood goes to town to make himself a great presence in the film, however, and under the circumstances the character seems tailor made for him.

But there would be the risk of his part in the movie being slightly conventional (we still get the 'Harry' type scenes of him being smarter- and as smart-ass- over everyone else in the room, and being scolded and told to back off by the top brass, here a chief of staff), including here protecting a president that (wisely) we never really see or know at all. Even the romantic sub-plot, which is sort of undercooked if there for some machismo laughs, would make the picture a little sub-par if the other quasi-Dirty Harry aspect didn't come into the picture: an indelible villain. This time there's some extra Hollywood suspense, however brillaintly intelligent suspense (almost smarter than the rest of the movie deserves), with the "John Booth" character, played in an Oscar nominated performance by John Malkovich, as someone who's described more as a predator than an assassin. There's ways this could go wrong with the Eastwood character, but Malkovich possibly trumps some of his former villain counterparts by being extremely cool and un-collected (there's that devastating, cringe-worthy scene where he kills the bank teller and her roommate), and as his past is revealed, there's still that element of 'what the hell is with this guy' that keeps the audience and Eastwood's agent guessing and extra paranoid. It's a classic Malkovich performance, quintessentially creepy and always measured in the level of insanity and professionalism.

It's also, aside from the conventional points, just a sleekly made picture from Peterson and company, and they come pretty close to the spunky pulp realism of Don Siegel. But Peterson also has a couple of cinematic tricks up his sleeve that had me grinning at times; anytime someone puts in such a blatant but exciting homage to Vertigo- jumping from rooftop to rooftop, hero dangling from the ledge, the 'twist'- it still provides some shivers down my spine. There's also the phone conversations between Eastwood and Malkovich, where we see the depths of the cat and mouse game, probably another kick in the ribs to Hithcock. But in the end, even with all the excitement and brutal danger and crisp formalism in the climax, it's also a characters picture in some ways throughout, and everything is fairly realized to give the audience a fine amount to ponder over, at least in the suspense-movie sense. Eastwod's a great lead, Russo plays the female possible love-interest sincere and mature, and Malkovich is top of the pops. There's also a few notable supporting roles too, and a fine studio score in there. One of the better films of 1993.
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One of the more intelligent political thrillers of the nineties
JamesHitchcock29 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In the cinema, as in most areas of life, one occasionally comes across some strange coincidences. Two years after "Dances with Wolves", one of the two great Westerns of the early nineties, Kevin Costner, its director and star, appeared in "The Bodyguard", a film about a former Secret Service agent named Frank who is haunted by guilt following the assassination attempt on President Reagan and who now has to try and prevent another assassination. A year after the other great Western of the early nineties, "Unforgiven", its director and star Clint Eastwood appeared in "In the Line of Fire", a film about a Secret Service agent named Frank who is haunted by guilt following the assassination of President Kennedy and who now has to try and prevent another assassination.

There are, of course, differences between the two films. In "The Bodyguard" Costner's character, Frank Farmer, has left the Secret Service and now works as a private bodyguard for a female showbiz star. Eastwood's character, Frank Horrigan, still works for the Service. Whereas Farmer is still a comparatively young man, Horrigan is an elderly man approaching retirement, worried about whether he is still physically fit enough to cope with the demands of the job. (Eastwood was sixty-three at the time). Just as "Unforgiven" was Eastwood's final entry in the Western genre in which he made his name in the fifties and sixties, so he seemed to be using "In the Line of Fire" and "A Perfect World" (made in the same year) as his farewell to the cop thriller, another genre which he had come to make his own in the seventies and eighties.

In "In the Line of Fire", Horrigan must thwart a plot to murder the current President by an assassin. There is also a sub-plot about a growing romance between Horrigan and a younger female colleague, Lilly Raines. (Rene Russo, thirty-nine at the time the film was made, was often regarded in the nineties as one of Hollywood's "glamorous older women", but this did not prevent her from being cast here as the love-interest of a man old enough to be her father).

This may seem like the plot of an ordinary political thriller. Although there is plenty in the way of thrills and excitement, it is raised above the level of the ordinary by Wolfgang Petersen's taut direction and by the standards of acting, particularly the duel between Eastwood and John Malkovich as the assassin, who calls himself "Booth", after the murderer of President Lincoln. Unlike the real John Wilkes Booth, however, this man is no political fanatic. He is a psychopathic former CIA operative named Leary with no ideological motive for killing the President, who always remains an anonymous figure. (We never learn whether he is a Republican or Democrat, or even his name). Leary's motivation seems to be taedium vitae, a belief in the purposelessness of life and a desire for notoriety at all costs, even the cost of his own life, and he gets a thrill out of taunting Horrigan (to whom he has announced his intention to assassinate the President) and playing psychological mind-games with him. He knows that Horrigan's weakness is his sense of guilt stemming from the Kennedy assassination, and plays on it ruthlessly. Malkovich plays him as intelligent but unhinged, at times insinuating, at others raving, and he contrasts strongly with Eastwood's decent but haunted Horrigan. The result is one of the more intelligent political thrillers of the nineties, on a par with Eastwood's later effort, "Absolute Power". 7/10
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Thriller from a more innocent time
Miles-1018 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"In the Line of Fire" is a taut thriller, featuring performances by two different types of great actors.

Clint Eastwood is the seasoned star of action vehicles, working his screen image in a way that makes it seem impossible that anyone else could have played crusty Secret Service Agent Frank Horrigan. (Yet several other actors were considered for the part before him, including Robert Redford.) Eastwood, who is now in his late 80s, was a virile 63 when this picture was released, and still believable as the love interest of younger co-star Rene Russo.

The biggest plot hole – if one can call it that – is that everybody wants Frank off the case because he is, as his boss says, "too old for this sh*t". Even his girlfriend seems only to want to keep him around because she feels sorry for him. Nobody except for the wiretapping technicians seems to recognize the fact that since the self- proclaimed assassin keeps calling Frank, his presence somewhere in the vicinity is indispensable to protecting the president.

In one of his more accessible and memorable screen performances, veteran actor John Malkovich plays Mitch, a villain whose intensity makes you believe he is capable of anything. Although he has been in over sixty movies and TV productions, most moviegoers have probably seen Malkovich rarely, usually in supporting or even cameo roles. He is almost anonymous despite having appeared in such popular movies as "Con Air" (1997) and the eponymous cult film "Being John Malkovich" (1999).

There is a scene in which Mitch meets two hunters who see too much, and right before he kills them Mitch confesses that he plans to assassinate the president. "Why would you want to do that?" asks one of the hunters in stunned horror. It does not matter what these men think of the president, who is portrayed as a vapid chameleon. This movie belongs to a quaint time when the idea of assassinating any president of the United States struck the overwhelming majority of Americans as plain wrong even if you thought the occupant of the White House was an execrable son of a bitch.
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It's a classic!
cwm3686 October 2003
One of the finest movies I have viewed...Good script, original plot of a man who is haunted about JFK's assassination when he was assigned to protect him on that Cold November day in 1963. Thirty years later another anti-social lunatic wants to assassinate the current president. The secret service agent loses his partner along the way,to the crazed gunmen who schemes,lies and murders anybody in his path who'll stand in his way of his mission.

The movie accompanies with a great memorable score,and a restrained but meaningful romance between Russo and Eastwood....which displays how difficult it is to have a romantic life in that kind of work. Malchovich is great,sure many other candidates could have played the role that he played,but how many could acted with such craftiness,and intellect that he displayed in the movie?

Needless to say,I thought this was a great movie...everytime it's on television I have to watch it..and I own it on dvd! I'm a big Eastwood fan,this only boosted his already fabulous career,and Malchovich's best role to date!
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