Produced and Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Main Cast: Luther Whitney (CLINT EASTWOOD), Kate Whitney (LAURA LINNEY), Walter Sullivan (E.G. MARSHALL), Alan Richmond (GENE HACKMAN), Gloria Russell (JUDY DAVIS), Bill Burton (SCOTT GLENN), Seth Frank (ED HARRIS)
Length: 122 min
Rating: * * * 1/2 out of * * * * *
Theatres: United Artists (Bugis), Studio City Cinemas, Lido
ABSOLUTE POWER Corrupts AbsolutelyA tightly written film, it's not a classic masterpiece but it's definitely good work which takes the audience beyond the common senseless thriller type movies. The film is not so much about politics as the title suggests, but of one man's conscience and his estranged relationship with his daughter. The human elements are never forgotten with humour amidst the tension and tension within each human.
Based on a novel by David Baldacci and adapted for the screen by William Goldman, the story revolves round Luther Whitney (Clint Eastwood), a master thief, meticulous in all he does. As he approaches retirement, he plans a grand burglary of a mansion own ed by Walter Sullivan (E.G. Marshall), one of the richest men in Washington, D.C. While cleaning out a hidden room filled with cash and jewellery, he's interrupted by drunk couple whose fore play turns foul. In the midst of their struggle, two men rush in and shoot the woman dead. A woman then steps in to take charge of a cover up. Whitney escapes with the knowledge of the crime: the victim is the young wife of Sullivan while the guilty party is the President Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman), his Chief of Sta ff Gloria Russell (Judy Davis) and Secret Service Agents Bill Burton and Tim Collin (Scott Glenn and Dennis Haysbert).
What follows is an increasingly paced sequence of events. Whitney almost gets away but is enraged by the hypocritical statement made by the President on television. The detective in charge puzzles over several loose ends but is sure the case is connected to Whitney, the only guy left who could have pulled off the burglary. Secret Service Agents and a man hired by Sullivan are after Whitney's life. All this while Whitney tries to heal a broken relationship with his daughter.
Eastwood does a fine job as Whitney, balancing his stern, stoic disposition with a genuine warmth towards his daughter. His vulnerability as a father becomes a major moving force as his daughter becomes a target as well. The father-daughter relationship develops as a counter point to the treachery and deceit which surrounds the White House. Hackman plays the chameleon-like President, a diplomat in public and an alcoholic and philanderer in private, and is convincing as a deeply dishonourable man who none theless commands respect and loyalty from his henchmen. Davis as Chief of Staff is a great wreck to watch; she's hysterical most of the time and it's amazing how she still remains the President's right hand person. Glenn takes my pick as best supporting a ctor for portraying Secret Service Agent Bill Burton. He's the real person in charge of saving the President's position, embroiled in the politics and deceit.
The background music (Lennie Niehaus), especially during the father-daughter sequences, can get a little trite but the overall mood and suspense is well captured not only by the music, but also by the cinematography (Jack N. Green). Eastwood and his team scores with ABSOLUTE POWER, not only with fans but also with non-die-hards like me.
The Flying Inkpot Rating System:
* Wait for the TV2 broadcast.
** A little creaky, but still better than staying at home with Gotcha!
*** Pretty good, bring a friend.
**** Amazing, potent stuff.
***** Perfection. See it twice.
Sherrie Lee is one stressed-out pianna player.
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I dunno, Sherrie....I was kinda expecting a lot more subterfuge and intrigue from a film with a title like this one. In fact, I'll unashamedly admit to having been lured to watch it on those grounds alone! But anyhow, you've got a point about the contrast between the father-daughter relationship and the treachery and turmoil of Capitol politics. Then again, even Eastwood's character didn't exactly have a perfectly honest and open relationship with his daughter, what with him hiding much from her and all. Maybe that's actually a reflection upon the true nature of politics, that even at its most benevolent, circumstances necessitate its concealment of essential truths / manipulation of its charges? :) If you think about it, Davis is a bit of a stereotype as the unstable mastermind. We've seen it all before, haven't we, the cold, brooding, calculating intellect coupled with all the emotional stability of a pit viper (the example of Pieter DeVries from DeLaurentis' Dune comes to mind).