Movie Review: In the Line of Fire (1993)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich and Rene Russo

Directed by: Wolfgang Peterson

Long serving Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan is haunted by his failure to save president John F. Kennedy in the sixties while assigned to protect him. Thirty years later there’s a serious threat to the current president which Horrigan must stop before he has two presidents assassinated on his watch.

In the Line of Fire is a classic game of cat and mouse between the would be presidential assassin (John Malkovich) and the veteran agent (Clint Eastwood) who is determined to face the ghosts that haunt him. The atmosphere during the movie gets very tense at times and extremely gripping as it begins to become a personal battle between the pair. There are no real action scenes to call upon until the climax of the film but the psychological battle between the two lead characters more than makes up for it.

Clint Eastwood is one of very few people within Hollywood that seems to just be himself in pretty much each one of his movies. He’s the tough, rugged hard ass who will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants, in this instance the prevention of another president being assassinated. He’s very much a one trick pony when it comes to acting but because he has mastered that one trick and is so believable he’s able to get away with it.

His counterpart in the movie is John Malkovich who is truly superb. I’ve always considered Malkovich as one of the most under rated actors around, he always puts on a great display even if the movie he’s in doesn’t quite match his performance. In the Line of Fire is a great example of this. While the movie is ok, decent enough plot, solid ensemble acting for the most part, it would be quite an average, forgettable movie if it wasn’t for John Malkovich. The way he plays “Booth”, the threatening assassin, is so perfect and he’s so chilling and calculated with his delivery it was truly a pleasure to watch. It’s no surprise at all that he was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance.

Overall, In the Line of Fire was fairly routine but was elevated by John Malkovich’s performance. Wolfgang Peterson has directed better movies than this (Das Boot, The Perfect Storm) but this is a solid addition to his résumé. Worth checking out for sure, makes for easy evening viewing.


A decent start to February, let’s hope it continues.

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