Absolute Power (1996)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Political Thriller  |   Release Date - Feb 14, 1997 (USA)  |   Run Time - 121 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Keith Phipps

After a few scenes of exposition, Absolute Power launches into a gripping, deliberately paced suspense sequence that might have been Clint Eastwood's sole reason for choosing to direct and star in the film. The care put into its execution gives this impression, as does the fact that the same care is notably absent from the rest of the film. After breaking into a tightly guarded estate, Eastwood watches helplessly behind a one-way mirror as a sexual encounter involving the President of the United States Gene Hackman turns violent and then murderous. Hitchcock would have staged it differently, but he would still nod approvingly. From that point on, however, Absolute Power turns disappointing, trotting an excellent cast through a fairly routine thriller. Eastwood introduces a number of interesting relationships, particularly those between his gentleman-thief character, daughter Laura Linney, and friendly antagonist Ed Harris but then gives them only a few scenes in which to develop, opting instead for set pieces that never quite click. Hackman's surrogate Clinton is the vilest of those to appear in the '90s and never lets viewers forget the plot's inherent implausibilities. Similarly, Eastwood makes for a silly master of disguise in his various wigs and beards, and a ridiculous anticlimax ends matters on a sour note.