In the Line of Fire 1993 ★★★★

A strong thriller spearheaded by a wonderful Malkovich performance and a mass of Eastwood zingers. The direction is skillful providing Malkovich with a great entrance and a series of strong characters.

The requisite love story is a little weak but at least provides comical moments. However this is countered with a series of interesting subplots.

The film never quite pulls off the finale as it should with a feeling of dread absent. The hand holding moral equivalency is also unneeded.

The Reverence: Hilarious mugshots including a bug eyed criminal and Malkovich as Wolverine beats out Secret Service Agents stripping down.

11 Comments

  • Mostly agree. Eastwood is pretty consistently terrible, his character little more than a zing throwing caricature - the romance subplot adds a little more drama to his cardboard role ... but Malkovich is awesome, which is a two-sided coin - his performance is great but as he becomes increasingly transparent and present in the film his sinisterness dissipates. The number of scenes where he is hanging around watching gets ridiculous. The tone of the film is inconsistent - some scenes are tense, but the comic moments and dialog often miss.
    My reverences are Malkovichs costume changes and also the phonecalls between Eastwood and Malkovich which are the films dramatic high points. The LA location for the final scene is great too.

  • Oh, and its way too long!

  • Malcovich as a bum is fantastic. I actually loved Clint's character. I think you are anti-Clint! Always swinging punches at him!

    I never had an issue with the length. The one scene I would have cut would have been where he hands out photos in the proximity of Malkovich. That throws believability into the abyss.

    Your reverence is wrong! The mugshots!

  • I loved the comic moments. The director was obviously have a lot of fun.

  • Malkovich as a bum... there was a whole movie in that. That should probably be my reverence. I also found the software manipulating his face quite funny too. But as a bum, the way he was standing knock kneed on the corner smiling at Clint. That was awesome.

    Believability was well into the abyss by the photo handout scene.

    Anti-Clint! Sometimes. I never like him much when his character is supposed to be a little quirky - it seems so forced.

    The length is interesting. I didn't think the film was particularly boring at any point, there was always something entertaining going on, but I did look at my watch after an hour and think the climax was about to begin. But the plot just kept rolling on. My problem with the length was I don't think much was being added, the characters weren't being developed a lot and there wasn't much building tension. Just a whole lot of failed phone taps, piano playing, presidential events and clints one liners. Not boring, but not very engaging either.

  • I mean, how many shots were there of one character or other driving past the departure sign of an airport!

  • Also, not sure what you thought, but the dialogue and exposition in the first half hour - particularly Clints dialogue - was brutal!

  • It sounds like you want a super streamlined film! There was a lot going on. The partner. The female. The hunters. The bankers. A lot of room for subplots. I thought these aspects made it more interesting then a streamlined thriller.

    I liked all the minutia. The fault was that it didn’t build up to a massive climax. The climax needed to finish in the hall. It was only extended so that Clint could be the one letting Malkovich chose if he lived or not. Shameful moral equivalency.

    And the comedy. When he looks at the dog and delivers the line! That is masterful.

  • The dog! He delivers no line to the dog! Do we have different versions of this film too??

  • When he is in the bank and delivers a line to the teller, while looking at the picture of a dog. It is both hilarious and clever as he is trying not to let his mask slip by focusing his sociopathic ways completely on the dog.

  • Yes, that is pretty good.
    Thinking more about this... I'm not sure this film actually has many subplots? There is the romance with the girl, which is cliched and has little screen time. And the murder of the bank teller which is a good scene. But what else? The partners family life is only developed through extra information added to the main plot line... and the layers of information about Malkovich and Eastwood are slowly added through twists in the main plot. My problem is these layers of information drag out the main plot and don't add anything interesting to the story. We understand the complexities of Eastwoods character after 20 minutes, and the way it is all spelled out for us is painful. And the plot points are handled very clumsily ... what about the number clue that cracks the case. The way that is revealed by the 'taxi' driver is abysmal!
    One thing I did like that we haven't mentioned was how the protagonist is past his prime and struggling more than a little with old age - it could have been developed further, but its a good angle.
    My conclusion: Mixed bag!

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