This was Eastwood’s last starring role in a film he didn’t direct himself. Instead, it was directed by Wolfgang Peterson, who directed Air Force One, Das Boot, and Troy. In The Line Of Fire is a smart, fast paced, and suspenseful film that I belive to be an over-looked highlight in Eastwood’s career.
In the film, Eastwood plays Frank Horrigan, a social service agent assigned to protect a president on a political campaign. Horrigan, who has never forgiven himself after allowing president Kennedy to die, promises himself that he’ll never let it happen again, and his old age will not prevent him from doing his job.
Meanwhile, an insane assasin, masterfully played by John Malchovich, takes a bizarre interest in Horrigan, and tells him of his plan to assasinate the president. Now, Horrigan must track down Malchovich before he loses another president.
The depth of the characters is as important as the action and suspense of the film. As always, Eastwood portrays his character perfectly, showing the audience his inner demons and desires, adding new depth to the character with each passing scene. Developing characters so well heightens the tension and suspense in the action scenes, if the audience relates to and cares about the characters, then they will surely have a more defined emotional response when the characters are in peril (which they often are in the film).
(Another great character is the assasin Booth. Booth is smart, intelligent and manipulating. Booth is often soft spoken and subtle, but his mask of sanity covers a complex psyche of anger and rage, traits which are revealed only a few timnes in the film to remind of how dangerous and insane booth is. Booth is a villain with motivation and humanity, and he is just as an important factor as Eastwood.
Overall, this is a great, underrated thriller. As of now, it has a 7.2 on Imdb, which I thinkis a criminally low score for such a smart, intelligent, and thrilling film.