Welcome to 90 from the ‘90s; the movie-related post in which I watch, discuss and debate a film from the 1990s – a film that I’ve NEVER SEEN. Posting on a semi-regular basis, I aim to work my way through 90 movies that I’ve previously missed/avoided, recording my thoughts along the way.

I’m going to watch good films, bad films, forgotten classics, Oscar winners and everything in between. Some of these films you’ll be surprised I’ve never seen, others you’ll completely understand why I’ve avoided them for 20+ years.

The rules are as follows:

  • The film must be from the 1990s (1990-1999)
  • The film must be a movie I’ve not watched before

Today’s unseen ‘90s movie is…

In the Line of Fire (1993)

Today’s movie is another example of a film that I’ve not seen, but for no real reason. And I’m surprised I’ve not seen it.

I adore the Dirty Harry series (1971-1988); The Gauntlet (1977) is a particular favourite of mine; and I’ve watched a large chunk of Clint Eastwood’s back catalogue, so I’m going to say that not watching In the Line of Fire is simply an oversight.

As for what I know about this movie – I believe the story centres upon an attempt to assassinate the US President, with Eastwood playing a Secret Service agent/bodyguard assigned to protect him… or something like that. I believe Wolfgang Petersen is the director and I know that John Malkovich is in the film – probably as the would-be assassin.

Let’s give it a whirl.

*Clicks the play button*

1min 30secs – Clint Eastwood and Dylan McDermott are on a case, which leads them to…

2mins 30secs – …Tobin Bell! Oh jeez, don’t trust Tobin Bell – have you not seen the Saw movies? He’ll make you take part in a series of elaborate and deadly traps and it won’t end well.

5mins – Yep, Bell has McDermott tied up, with a plastic bag over his head. As traps go, it’s not the most elaborate, but it’s still effective. It’s lucky Clint Eastwood is around to save the day and McDermott can once again breath easy. Clint 1 : Tobin 0.

8mins – Oh dear, Clint Eastwood has been called by a landlady to take a look at some worrying newspaper clippings in a tenants apartment. The clippings suggest someone has put a target on the President! Now personally, my first port of call would be to find out what Tobin Bell is up to, but I have a feeling that’s not where this story is going.

13mins 40secs – Clint has just had a call, from someone saying he plans to kill the President. Yeah, it’s not Tobin Bell – the voice on the other end of the phone is clearly John Malkovich. If Clint was perhaps more familiar with Malkovich’s work, he’d know who it was straight away. Jeez, call yourself a Secret Service agent – you can’t even recognise John Malkovich on the other end of your phone.

16mins – An introduction to the rest of the Secret Service team now, which includes Rene Russo, Gary Cole and John Mahoney.

17mins – Gary Cole is being accused of bustin’ Clint’s balls. You know, some people pay good money for that kind of thing. Not sure they’d pay Gary Cole for it though.

24mins 40secs – John Malkovich has just called Clint on the telephone to tell him he’s ‘watching his movie’. Look John, Clint was young, he needed the money; it was just that one time, no big deal. The director promised it would be a tasteful film and that there was nothing to…

24mins 50secs – …Oh, wait, John’s talking about watching video footage of Clint at the assassination of JFK. I see. Forget I said anything.

31mins – This movie is trying to create sexual tension between Clint Eastwood and Rene Russo – but it’s simply not working. It’s like watching your pervy old uncle come on to your friend. *Shudder* 

33mins – Meanwhile… John Malkovich is in a bank, flirting with a bank clerk. Although he’s being very, very creepy (in a John Malkovich kind of way), there’s still far more chemistry going on here than there is between Eastwood and Russo.

36mins – Clint Eastwood (speaking to himself), while looking at Rene Russo walking away from him – “She looked back; that means she’s interested.” No Clint, no it doesn’t. She’s probably just checking that you’re not following her.

36mins 20secs – There’s a dog on screen! A dog! Yay.

36mins 30secs – Oh crap, John Malkovich has just turned up at the home of the bank clerk. He’s still acting very, very creepy yet he still has more of a chance at romance than Clint does with Rene Russo.

38mins – Ah hell, Malkovich has just gone crazy and has killed the bank clerk and her room mate. And things were going so well. Maybe Clint’s approach is better after all.

49mins – Rene Russo seems to be showing interest in Clint.

50mins – Oh sweet jeez, she just gave him ‘the look’. Bloody hell, Rene, don’t give him ‘the look’ or you’ll never get rid of him.

50mins 30secs – Clint went in for a snog. Rene snubbed him. Maybe she hasn’t lost her senses after all.

51mins 20secs – Snog alert! Clint and Rene are now locking lips. So yes, she has lost her senses.

52mins 30secs – Oh bloody hell, the kiss has gone further. Yep, now it’s more like watching your pervy granddad trying it on with your friend.

53mins 45secs – I’m confused. Is this movie about an assassination attempt or is this just two hours of Clint Eastwood and Rene Russo getting it on? I did not sign up for this.

1hr 9mins – Putting aside the Eastwood/Russo ‘romance’, Eastwood is now back working with Dylan McDermott to track down John Malkovich. *Checks running time* Yeah, there’s still about an hour to go, so I don’t think they’re going to find Malkovich anytime soon.

1hr 11mins – Steve Railsback (aka Duane Barry from The X-Files) has just turned up, to reveal that Malkovich is a trained killer. No shit, Sherlock. Next you’ll be telling us that water is wet and that watching Clint Eastwood try it on with Rene Russo is uncomfortable to watch!

1hr 19mins – Now that this movie has moved passed all that rubbish between Eastwood and Russo, this film has cranked things up a gear creating some generally good interactions between Eastwood and Malkovich. This is getting good!

1hr 25mins – After a tense face-off between Eastwood and Malkovich, Malkovich has just killed Dylan McDermott. I told you this was getting good! Oh, and poor Dylan McDermott. First someone tries to suffocate him with a plastic bag and now he’s been shot in the face. Harsh. Very harsh.

1hr 32mins – The tension is mounting. I can tell this because the music has gone all weird and theatrical. Plus, Malkovich is being all creepy again.

1hr 37mins – John Malkovich has literally just been invited to meet the President. Bloody hell, at least make the assassination attempt a challenge for him!

1hr 43mins – Eastwood is stood with Russo, discussing a mistake from his past when he failed to make the right judgement call. The situation has haunted him for years. Presumably Russo is also thinking about a past mistake which will haunt her for years – that moment when she snogged Eastwood.

1hr 50mins – There’s about 20 minutes to go and Malkovich is in prime position to make his move. Will Eastwood get to him in time? Will the President survive? Will Rene Russo fire her agent for making her Clint’s love interest in an otherwise decent movie? Who knows.

1hr 54mins – Malkovich’s assassination attempt failed.

1hr 58mins – It’s Malkovich Vs Eastwood. My money’s on Eastwood, but it could be anyone’s fight really….

1hr 58mins 10secs – Ah, who am I trying to kid? Eastwood has this in the bag.

1hr 59mins – And Malkovich is dead.

*Clicks stop*

Once the first hour is out of the way and the romantic subplot dies down, In the Line of Fire becomes a really good thriller. Malkovich is excellent as the assassin, while Eastwood gets to play a role he’s well suited to.

It’s just a shame then that Russo is saddled with a bit of a crap part, especially when she’s such a good actress (check out her turn in the Thomas Crown Affair (1999) if you don’t believe me).

Overall, In the Line of Fire is a decent movie. Not Eastwood’s best, but this is really Malkovich’s picture so it gets the thumbs up.

13 down; 77 to go.

For past entries in the 90 from the ’90s series, check out: Postcards from the Edge (1990)Universal Soldier(1992)Passenger 57 (1992)Mo’ Better Blues (1990)The Client (1994)Good Will Hunting (1997)Pump Up the Volume (1990)Mr. Nanny (1993) Fargo (1996)Hudson Hawk (1991)So I Married An Axe Murderer (1993) and Timecop (1994).