Absolute Power

Absolute Power is a thriller starring a high-powered cast that includes Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, and Ed Harris. The movie really starts off slowly: Luther Whitney (Eastwood) is in the process of burglarising the home of millionaire Walter Sullivan (E.G. Marshal) when he witnesses the Secret Service kill Christy Sullivan (Melora Hardin), after she attempts to defend herself against the sexual advances of the President of the USA, Alan Richmond (Hackman).

This happens over an agonisingly long period of time. After this, the action really picks up. The Secret Service and the Presidents Chief of Staff work cover-up the incident. Witney makes a break for it, and the Secret Service chases him. As Witney plans to leave the country, he witnesses Richmond shedding crocodile tears on television for the terrible loss his friend, Walter Sullivan, has had to endure. The moment he sees this hypocracy Witney decides not to run and instead fights to bring the cover-up to light, with the aid of detective Seth Frank (Harris) and Whitney's own daughter Kate (Laura Linney), who is less than thrilled to have a criminal for a father.

Witney ultimately makes the best decision in the end: he hands over the evidence of the crime to Walter Sullivan who has enough influence and power to see the matter brought to justice.

The plot is reasonable, even though it requires some significant suspensions of disbelief. If you can't make the leap, I'd recommend skipping this movie. The acting is tight and there are some incredible moments that make this movie worth watching if you can tolerate the slower parts. For example, the scene where the Chief of Staff dances with the President as they have a conversation about the cover-up is amazing. Eastwood (who is also the producer and the director) takes his time to build the characters up in this movie, and it is a rare thriller that does this today.

Some people as usual have criticised that this movie casts the President's office in a bad light (the sheer irony of this claim leaves me speechless, so I'm not going to comment on that aspect). Personally I think the movie shows how absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the end, Witney's expression when Walter Sullivan speaks about the fate of Alan Richmond sums it all up.

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org