Absolute Power C+, A
US/1997/Color/Widescreen, Anamorphic 2.35:1, P&S or
Letterbox/Dolby Digital 5:1/121 minutes/Directed by Clint Eastwood/Starring Clint
Eastwood, Gene Hackman/Warner/35 Chaps/$24.98
Absolute Power isnt really about abuse of power. Its
just an opportunity for Clint Eastwood to move unscathed through a preposterous series of
conflicts with the FBI. Even Eastwoods cool cant make any sense out of
his actions after a burglary takes a turn off the thieves road.
Eastwood plays Luther Whitney, a sophisticated burglar making
what appears to be a last score before retirement. The first question I ask myself is how
come this guy is broke if hes such a crack crook. I guess its his high flying
life style. Wrong. Hes just a blue collar kind of guy with an Assistant DA for a
daughter. Whitneys cool. Whitneys burglary is interrupted by the President of
the United States arriving with the lady of the house. In the bedroom, where Whitney
watches safely behind a two-way mirror, the sexual play becomes a bit too violent
prompting the Secret Service to arrive with a couple of quick gun shots to save the
President. The entire sequence becomes ridiculous right through Whitneys escape.
Absolute Power simply never finds its center of gravity.
There are too many holes to cover up with action and not enough
action in Absolute Power. The languorous pace provides the viewer with too much time to
assay the wrong turns and improbabilities of the film. Abuse of power is difficult enough
to present in fresh terms, but dealing without a core of reality from the very beginning
makes this thriller a tough meal of a movie to swallow. Still, it is mostly entertaining
if you dont stop to think too long.
Eastwoods character of Luther Whitney is
the best element of Absolute Power and Eastwood does a typically good job of making the
character sympathetic and laconically dangerous. But the script serves Eastwood a
difficult role in which to find truth. Whitneys arrogant obviousness to danger does
not serve the film well. It seems the master burglar can appear at will under any
circumstances. His brash meeting with his daughter serves no purpose at all except to
display the scripts desperation to create excitement. Whitney blithely walks into a
trap and miraculously escapes two sniper bullets from totally different angles.
Thats the kind of stuff that saps the tension from Absolute Power.
Eastwood directs himself and his actors well. The script by
screenwriting legend William Goldman lets them all down. The director has set in place all
the elements for a terrific film. Jack Greens camera moves with menace and captures
the action from a confident lens. Lennie Niehaus provides an excellent score that adds
powerfully to the image. Director Eastwood could have been a little tougher on the flow on
the film. He seems reluctant to trim his film with the cold eye of earlier works.
Alongside Eastwood, Gene Hackman cant take the cliche
out of President Alan Richmond. Judy Davis has the impossible task of finding any
reality in White House Chief of Staff Gloria Russell. Ed Harris brings his mark of
reliability to investigating detective Seth Frank, but has to try too hard to make
something of the romantic sub-plot.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer makes Absolute Power a great
looking DVD. Dark scenes have a sparkle to them. Sunshine shines. Resolution is maximized
by the anamorphic treatment. You can look into the pupils of the actors eyes. Too bad
theres little to be discovered behind the camera boundaries. Color is
flawless, tightly bound in ever scene. The 5:1 Dolby Digital surround has excellent range.
Music and dialogue are in perfect balance and effects blend well, maximizing their impact.