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Absolute Power

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Absolute Power

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Dennis Haysbert
Director: Clint Eastwood
Rated: R
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: February 1997
Genres: Action, Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: E. G. Marshall, Ed Harris, Gene Hackman, Judy Davis, Laura Linney, Scott Glenn

Review by Marty Mapes
No Rating Supplied

It's Clint vs. Clinton! Knowing Clint Eastwood's Republican slant, Absolute Power is an interesting jab at the presidency and at the current president. Gene Hackman plays President Alan Richmond, a slimy politician who uses his power for sexual favors and official coverups.

Clint Eastwood is Luther Whitney, the "master thief" with a heart of gold. One night while robbing a mansion, he is surprised by noises in the supposedly empty house. He hides in a vault with a two-way mirror and watches a man and a woman enter the bedroom. They flirt and play for a while, then the man starts getting rough. When the woman finally gets the upper hand the man calls for help and two other men enter and shoot the woman dead. The scene is covered up to look like a failed burglary attempt (which puts Luther in a tough spot, him being a burglar and all).

The man was no less than the president of the United States, accompanied by his chief of staff and two secret service agents. Luther feels the heat, and considers leaving the country. But when the president uses the dead woman's husband for PR, Luther decides to stay and fight.

The story is interesting, and it is told without all the polish and hype of a mainstream Hollywood thriller. Eastwood is good at breaking from the formula and this movie is helped immensely by it. For example, Luther is interested in art and sketching. He leaves his keys in the plant on his front porch. He is as old as Eastwood and jokes about being in the AARP. In short: he is not the caricature that he could have been in a worse but slicker movie. (In contrast I recall the previews for Murder at 1600, where Wesley Snipes lands at the White House and tells his dispatcher [with a straight face, I might add] "There's been a murder at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: an address that changes all the rules.")

The movie also appears to have been made on a shoestring budget. The credits rolled by in just a few minutes, and there were no lavish stunts or expensive computer effects. At the time I didn't even notice, but it's refreshing to think that good movies can still be made with only actors, a script, and some nice locations. I won't be surprised if this movie is much better than Murder at 1600, or if it's better because it focused on the basics.

There is a subplot involving Luther and his daughter which feels contrived and probably didn't need to be included. I suppose it gives some depth to Luther's character, but their relationship was predictable in an otherwise original movie. Luther worries about Kate's health; Kate worries about dad's career. They are estranged at first, but going through this conflict together reunites them. Blah blah blah.

The movie ended abruptly and left some loose ends. We know (from a TV voice-over) what happens to many of the main characters, but we get no time to digest that information. Rather than spending time on Kate's life, screen time could have been better spent putting closure to some of the smaller issues in the film.

Copyright 1997 Marty Mapes

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