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In the Line of Fire(1993)
Aging Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan, on duty the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, is still unable to forget his failure on that fateful day, even as he nears retirement 30 years later. When a psychotic man calling himself Booth threatens to kill the current president, Horrigan discovers that the man knows far more about him than he knows about the man. Booth dares Horrigan to catch him, taunting the troubled agent with his past disappointments, as Horrigan desperately tries to protect the President and regain his self-respect at the same time.
For more about In the Line of Fire and the In the Line of Fire Blu-ray release, see the In the Line of Fire Blu-ray Review
Starring: Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Dylan McDermott, Gary Cole, Eric Bruskotter
Director: Wolfgang Petersen (I)
» See full cast & crew
In the Line of Fire Blu-ray Review
Another Clint Eastwood classic released on BD features dramatically improved picture and sound.
Reviewed by Greg Maltz, June 30, 2008
Just when I think the novelty of high resolution video and audio is wearing off, Sony releases on Blu-ray disc a title from 15 years ago, and the quality almost makes me fall out of my chair. In the Line of Fire's picture and sound are not quite reference level on BD, but the improvement over the special edition DVD released in 2001 is dramatic enough to give a very high rating. The picture reveals a hint of softness or perhaps digital noise reduction that holds back a perfect score. But the movie has aged well and remains as relevant and accessible today as when it was released in 1993. The thrill-ride is still intense with Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) and Mitch Leary (John Malkovich) playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse. The stakes are no less than the life of the President of the United States.
The story begins as Horrigan and his rookie colleague at the Secret Service, agent Al D'Andrea (Dylan McDermott), close a counterfeit case before being tipped off by a lead that puts them on the trail of Leary. Sometimes it seems as though Leary is tailing Horrigan, rather than the other way around, for this is no ordinary good guy vs bad guy story. Horrigan's past has haunted him since the 1960s when he headed the Secret Service team in charge of protecting John F. Kennedy. When Kennedy was assassinated, Horrigan faced critics on all sides. After that, he began to drink heavily. His marriage ended and he lost his family. But none of that compared to the inner torment he felt from his own guilt at letting down the Commander in Chief--a president who he deeply admired--and letting down the entire nation. Meanwhile, Leary's own dark past has played a role in his deep hatred of his country. The psychopath sees a kindred spirit in Horrigan. But Horrigan wants nothing more than to hunt down Leary and bust a cap in his ass. Leary is a worthy adversary, though. He appears more motivated and capable of assassinating the president than Horrigan is of protecting him.
As the brilliantly paced narrative flows through a series of clues, close calls and dead-ends, Horrigan's brash style angers White House Chief of Staff Harry Sargent (Fred Dalton Thompson) and Secret Service agent Lilly Raines (Rene Russo). But Eastwood deftly reveals another side of Horrigan. While keeping his jaded, tough guy persona, he becomes flirtatious and uses his charm and wit to get back on Raines' good side. Horrigan also has other friends in high places, such as Secret Service Director Sam Campagna (John Mahoney), who knows Horrigan from the old days. Using his connections to stay on the case, and developing a relationship with Raines in the background, Horrigan pursues Leary across the country. But who will prove more skillful--the assassin or the federal agent? And will Horrigan really take a bullet for a president he doesn't respect in order to redeem himself for the assassination of a president he did respect?
Aside from the excellent plotline and pacing of the film, In the Line of Fire works because the good guy and bad guy have depth and a meaningful story behind each of them. This depth is paid off by the actors' ability to play emotions that tap in to their characters' past. As a result, the character development is far better than most films in the thriller genre. And because both Horrigan and Leary are complicated people, Eastwood and Malkovitch can sink their chops into their roles and deliver powerhouse performances. Director Wolfgang Petersen also can take much credit for the success of these characters, ensuring that their emotions bubble to the surface only during key moments of the film. Petersen deftly moves through a range of genres--romantic comedy, thriller, drama and action. In the Line of Fire has it all.
In the Line of Fire Blu-ray, Video Quality
Overall, Sony did an excellent job with the high definition mastering of In the Line of Fire. Resolution appears fantastic, with a beautiful, organic feel. Black level is inky and shows no sign of digital artifacts or banding. However, the picture's contrast is very interesting. Daylight scenes appear ever so slightly washed out, but dark scenes show better contrast. Skin tones tend to all look the same, which indicates some type of processing was used--perhaps digital noise reduction of some kind. This will make the "grain haters" happy, as the small grain has a minimal presence. But depth suffers a bit. This shallowness of field is a relatively minor criticism. The movie was actually shot in a way that allows the backgrounds to go soft during much of the film.
Watch the night scene where Leary phones Horrigan's modest apartment and, recognizing the sound of a siren on the phone and outside his window, the agent realizes Leary must be at a payphone around the corner. After asking Leary to hold, and bolting out his front door, the camera pulls in tight on Eastwood, allowing the background to go soft in an impressionistic, high contrast cityscape. The details of Eastwood's hair, skin and clothes show up gorgeously. But watch as the cinematography shifts and the focal point becomes the street and buildings in the distance, as Eastwood goes soft. The image at all times has remarkable resolution and contrast that provides all the right cues for realism.
In the Line of Fire Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The audio resolution, presented in Dolby TrueHD, also showcases a dramatic improvement over the DVD version. From the earliest notes of the score, trumpets sound regal and brassy, with good treble extension, and the soundstage is immersive. Dialog and gunshots are resolved gorgeously, with good clarity and definition. Though effects and the LFE channel are not a major part in the audio track, resolution is critical in many crowd scenes when the noise of applause, microphoned speech, orchestral score and agents whispering on walkie talkies must all be resolved. The Blu-ray manages to keep a certain amount of air around each piece of the sonic landscape. Each is heard with ample definition and realism. The mix is done right.
Listen to the sequence from the time the president's motorcade arrives in the rain to the speech delivered shortly after that in the amphitheater. All audio cues and ambient sounds are portrayed realistically and placed appropriately in the soundstage. From the raindrops to the wheels and engines of the vehicles to the dialog between Eastwood and Russo to crowd noises--the entire palette of audio cues are accurately melded in the Dolby TrueHD track. We've come a long way from the days of "be kind--rewind".
In the Line of Fire Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The bonus content delivered on BD is the same as the supplementary material on the special edition DVD released in 2001.
Director Commentary with Wolfgang Petersen: The director does a fine job working with the cast and crew, but his commentary is a bit dry. Still, there are some decent nuggets if you wade through the filler.
Showtime Special: Behind the Scenes with the Secret Service: By far the greatest bonus feature on the BD, this special goes into detail on the responsibilities and challenges facing secret service agents. It runs about 30 minutes and focuses on technical advisor Bob Snow, as well as the director and cast.
How’d They Do That: At about five minutes duration, this featurette, describes the use of blue screen in convincingly making Clint Eastwood appear in historic footage of John F. Kennedy. Overlays were also used to make it appear as though large crowds from campaigns were surrounding Eastwood and the other agents.
Catching the Counterfeiters: This featurette clocks in at about five minutes and explains how the U.S. Secret Service investigates counterfeit cases.
The Ultimate Sacrifice: This documentary, like the Showtime special, features the film's technical advisor, Bob Snow, along with Peterson, and some cast members, describing the real-life responsibilities of agents who protect presidents' life and limb. It is mostly overlap with the Showtime special.
Deleted scenes: The deleted scenes, like the other bonus content, does not clean up very well. After watching the scenes, one understands why they were deleted.
In the Line of Fire Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I find Clint Eastwood's work during the second half of his career more consistently rewarding than his earlier films. Since the mid 1980s, Eastwood brought an honesty and integrity to his performances that is rare among his peers. In the Line of Fire is a perfect example, on the heels of Unforgiven, arguably his most successful project. That western was a tough act to follow, but the thriller about a secret service agent turned out to be another perfect role for Eastwood. By combining his menacing air of controlled intensity with a more playful, flirtatious side, he turns in a remarkable performance that withstands the test of time. The sheer entertainment value of watching Eastwood play Horrigan in high definition makes In the Line of Fire an easy BD to recommend.
Blu-ray bundles with In the Line of Fire (2 bundles)
In the Line of Fire Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - July 1st, 2008 - July 1, 2008
Before there were Sopranos, there were Mad Men. Well, sort of. Series creator Matthew Weiner wrote the pilot back in 2000 while working as a staff writer for the TV show "Becker". David Chase, creator of 'The Sopranos', read the script, and was so impressed by ...
• In the Line of Fire Coming to Blu-ray - April 21, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Clint Eastwood film 'In the Line of Fire' to Blu-ray on July 1st. Video will be presented in 2.40:1 1080p AVC and accompanied by a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. No special features have been ...
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