The main reason that I enjoyed the 1997 Clint Eastwood film Absolute Power was because it features a murderer who also happens to be the President. As someone who dislike the idea of any one person having absolute power, I always get annoyed by the attitude that authority is something that has to be automatically respected. Instead, I’ve always felt that all authority should be distrusted and continually questioned.
Just take President Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman) for example. At the start of Absolute Power, he’s a popular President. He’s quick with a smile. He’s quick with a memorable line. I imagine that excerpts from his State of the Union speech would probably be very popular on YouTube. However, at the start of the film, elderly burglar Luther Whitney (Clint Eastwood) witnesses President Richmond getting violent with Jan Levinson-Gould. When Jan resists him, two Secret Service agents (Scott Glenn and Dennis Haysbert) run into the room and shoot her.
Okay, technically, the victim was not really The Office‘s Jan Levinson-Gould. (They both just happen to be played by Melora Hardin.) Instead, her name was Christy Sullivan and she was also the wife of one of Richmond’s top financial supporters, Walter Sullivan (E.G. Marshall). After the murder, President Richmond and his chief-of-staff, Gloria Russell (Judy Davis), attempt to frame Luther for the crime.
Absolute Power is pretty much your typical Clint Eastwood action picture. In the role of Luther, Eastwood snarls his way through the film and never dispatches a bad guy without providing a ruthless quip. (When one bad guy begs for mercy, Luther replies that he’s “fresh out.”) Luther has an estranged daughter, a lawyer named Kate (Laura Linney) and, despite the fact that she’s helping the homicide detective (Ed Harris) who is trying to capture him, Luther still pops up to look out for her. In the end, Luther’s not only try to prove that the President is a murderer but he’s trying to be a better father as well! Awwwwwww!
Again, it’s all pretty predictable but the film is worth seeing just for the chance to witness Gene Hackman play one of the most evil Presidents ever. As far as soulless chief executives are concerned, Alan Richmond makes Woodrow Wilson look like a humanitarian! And Hackman does a good job embodying the affable type of evil that could conceivably translate into an electoral landslide.
Absolute Power may not be a great film but it’s a good one to watch whenever you need an excuse to be cynical about the absolute power of the government.