A Secret Service agent with a haunted past is contacted by a
remorseless killer who claims he's going to kill the president.
In the Line of Fire (1993)
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Written by Jeff Maguire
Starring Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo,
Dylan McDermott, Gary Cole, John Mahoney, Fred Thompson
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actor (John Malkovich),
Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing
Few directors were as good at crafting political thrillers like Wolfgang Petersen. His one-two hit of In the Line of Fire and Air Force One make for an exhilarating double feature. This film in particular is highly engaging, mixing the real history of the Kennedy assassination with a fictional assassin who draws inspiration from it. And of course, you've got a tense showdown between cinematic titans Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich. What's not to like?
Our hero is Secret Service Agent Frank Horrigan (Eastwood), who was on JFK's protection detail the day he was killed. He blames himself for the events of that day, and he hasn't felt comfortable on the job since. One day, ex-CIA assassin Mitch Leary (Malkovich) calls Frank to tell him that he's planning to kill the president, and he wants Frank to try and stop him. Frank gets goaded into Mitch's twisted game, but Mitch always seems to be two steps ahead, using aliases and changing his identity. All the while, the rest of the Secret Service sees Frank as a liability, as a dinosaur, as yesterday's news. Will it take the death of the president for Frank to be proven right? The journey there is intense and very exciting, but the final showdown eclipses all of it.
In the Line of Fire has gone down as an action classic, an Oscar nominee, and a massive box office success. John Malkovich stands out as an unhinged, brilliant, determined psychopath, and there are times where you think he might actually pull this off. It's one of the best action thrillers of the 90's, and another feather in the cap of the late great Wolfgang Petersen.