IN THE LINE OF FIRE dramatizes the nerve-wracking task of protecting a President during a whirlwind campaign and serves up a riveting duel between a tough but vulnerable Secret Service agent and a diabolically clever assassin. In the harrowing opening sequence, we watch veteran agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) save his rookie partner from execution. Horrigan is haunted by the events of November 22, 1963, and the nagging remorse that a quicker reaction on his part might have saved JFK from the infamous head wound. The traumatic memory of death in Dallas becomes a living nightmare when Horrigan accidentally crosses paths with the most malignant adversary of his long career, Mitch Leary (John Malkovich, in a searing characterization), a cruel and relentless killer who is absolutely determined to assassinate the President.
One of the many strengths of IN THE LINE OF FIRE is its cleverness at revealing bits and pieces of Leary’s identity a little at a time. Language, unfortunately, becomes intense in several scenes, although obscenity does not flow gratuitously throughout the film. There are also brief outbursts of cops-and-crooks violence. On the other hand, IN THE LINE OF FIRE is easily the best political thriller in years. Most importantly, it honors professionalism and self-sacrifice, qualities which have recently been in far too short supply on the big screen.
(H, B, LLL, VV, B) Humanistic worldview which inadvertently emphasizes some biblical principles; 38 obscenities & 18 profanities: multiple brief bursts of violence including approximately 10 shootings & 2 fistfights; two women killed when necks broken by assassin; brief views of autopsy photos; and, positive portrayal overall of Secret Service Agents as heroic professionals.