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Working as a hired gun in director Wolfgang Peterson's IN THE LINE OF FIRE ($29), Clint Eastwood definitely walked away from the experience with one of the best films of his later acting career under his belt. IN THE LINE OF FIRE places Eastwood in the role of seasoned Secret Service Agent Frank Horrigan. At the Treasury Department, Horrigan is something of a living legend, having the dubious distinction of being the only active Secret Service agent to have ever lost a President on his watch. Although he tries to hide it, Horrigan is something of a troubled man; he was President Kennedy's favorite agent, and he was with JFK on that fateful November day in Dallas. Horrigan never forgave himself for Kennedy's death, and his agonizing guilt virtually destroyed his personal life, leaving him bitter and nearly burnt out.

The plot of IN THE LINE OF FIRE centers on a potential presidential assassin, who plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with the secret service, after announcing to Horrigan, his intention to kill the president. Clint Eastwood turns in an especially fine performance as Frank Horrigan. Eastwood brings to life this man grieving over his past, who hopes to find redemption by saving the life of the current president. I am really surprised that this great performance didn't garner Eastwood an Oscar nomination. As for Eastwood's nemesis in the film, John Malkovich is absolutely super. As far as I am concerned, this is Malkovich’s best and most memorable performance, one that earned him a nomination for supporting actor. As Secret Service Agent Lilly Raines, Rene Russo plays the somewhat thankless role of Eastwood's love interest. Fortunately, Russo shines through as the much younger agent, who is tough, eager and beautiful, a perfect counterpoint to Eastwood's tired, old dinosaur.

The cast of IN THE LINE OF FIRE also features Dylan McDermott, Gary Cole, Fred Dalton Thompson and John Mahoney. IN THE LINE OF FIRE has been very slickly produced. Wolfgang Peterson's direction is rock solid and keeps the viewer riveted to their chair. Anne V. Coates editing is so spectacularly fluid that it causes the film's over two hour running time seem only half as long. John Bailey's Panavision cinematography is exquisite; many sequences are a standout, especially the climax. Ennio Morricone's musical score is one of the best; powerful, yet it has the kind of subtlety not found in other scores.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made IN THE LINE OF FIRE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The original DVD release of IN THE LINE OF FIRE looked good, but the 1080p presentation of this fifteen-year-old film rates as a definite wow. High definition really brings out the beauty of the film’s cinematography, but also has the unintended side effect of making some of the digital composite work appear all too obvious. Image sharpness and detail are really great; even fine details and the textures of objects are very well rendered. Colors are vivid, while the flesh tones highly realistic. Blacks appear precise, whites are totally stable, plus the picture boasts excellent contrast and shadow detail. The elements from which IN THE LINE OF FIRE has been transferred are in excellent shape, displaying very few blemishes. Grain is very mild.

IN THE LINE OF FIRE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Without question, this is an excellent sounding track. Perhaps the mix isn’t as overblown as some newer films, but it is perfectly suited to the material. The rear channels do provide a great deal of ambient sound and musical fill, plus some great active effects. Additionally, there is a good deal of directionality in the forward soundstage. Ennio Morricone's musical score benefits from the upgraded fidelity of TrueHD format, plus the bottom end of the track is potent, without becoming artificially boomy. Dialogue reproduction is clean and precise, plus the actors’ voices usually come across with a nice sense of presence. French and Portuguese Dolby TrueHD soundtracks are also present, as is a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Dutch and Bahasa.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental features. Director Wolfgang Petersen is on hand to provide a running Audio Commentary. Documentary/Featurette programs include The Ultimate Sacrifice (twenty two minutes), Behind The Scenes With The Secret Service (twenty minutes), Catching The Counterfeiters (five minutes) and How’d They Do That? (four minutes). Some Deleted Scenes close out the supplements.

IN THE LINE OF FIRE represents one of the best films of Clint Eastwood later acting career. Sony’s Blu-ray release of the film looks and sounds great and is indeed a worthwhile upgrade for fans. Recommended.


In the Line of Fire (1993) [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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