Absolute Power (1997): Eastwood Directs and Stars in White House Thriller

Absolute Power, a semi-suspenseful, middle-range thriller, is directed by Clint Eastwood in his characteristic sharp and crispy style.

Eastwood stars as an aging cat burglar who becomes embroiled in a cold-blood murder and subsequent government cover-up.

Adapted by the Oscar-winning scenarist William Goldman from a novel by David Baldacci, the movie features an all-star cast, which includes Gene Hackman, Laura Linney, and Judy Davies.

Luther Whitney (eastwood), an aging ex-con, decides to pull off one last heist before retirement.  Just as he finishes looting the vault of a mansion, a drunken couple enters the adjoining bedroom and start making love.

Something goes wrong, when gun-wielding men bust in and shoot down the woman, but Luther slips out. We later learn than the would-be lovers were U.S. President Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman) and Christy Sullivan (Melora Hardin), the young wife of the President’s biggest supporter Walter Sullivan (E.G. Marshall).  Naturally, soon a major cover-up begins.

Luther is contacted by the tough and suspicious detective Seth Frank (Ed Harris), who fears that he will be blamed for the killing and prepares to leave the country.

In a separate sub-plot, Luther tries to reconcile with his daughter Kate (Laura Linney), a successful attorney, to make peace for having been absent during most of her life.  But, initially, she rejects him.

At the airport, Luther sees a press conference in which President Richmond goes on a tirade concerning his stand against violence.  As a result, he abruptly decides to stay and fight for justice.

The last reel is too contrived and ending rather abrupt, but the first hour or so is suspenseful with its twists and turns and revelations.

While the movie doesn’t represent Eastwood’s best work as an actor or director, it’s nevertheless consistently involving and solidly enjoyable, largely due to the performances of the high-caliber cast, which also includes Scott Glenn and Dennis Haysbert and two fo Esatwood’s real-life daughters..

Some of the scenes between Hackman and Judy Davis as his chief of stuff are witty and humorous, while others are cartoonish, turning the two estimable thespians into buffoons.

At the time, the plot was seen by some analysts as a bleak tale, inspired by President Bill Clinton’s notorious sex scandal with Paula Jones.




Running time: 125 minutes.

Directed By: Clint Eastwood

Written By: William Goldman

Released: February 14, 1997.

DVD: Jul 8, 1997