Movie Review

Absolute Power

Reviewed by: Dale Mason
STAFF WRITER

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action/Adventure
Length:
121 min.
R

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Laura Linney / Director: Clint Eastwood

A philandering President. A globe-trotting “first lady” with an agenda all her own. Loyal law enforcement officers who transgress the law in order to hide their leader’s scandalous actions. A White House staff member who commits suicide because he can no longer deal with the pent-up guilt he carries for his own part in covering up for the President…

It’s hard to believe that this big-budget, politically-incorrect drama even got made, let alone released to the theaters of America! With its amazing similarity to some of the most notorious headlines of the present presidency, the only thing missing was a booming narrator’s voice “…only the names have been changed, to protect the innocent.”

“Absolute Power” is a story about an extremely skillful and “respected” burglar (Clint Eastwood) who witnesses an illicit bedroom tryst which turns violent. He watches in disbelief from behind a one-way mirror as a seductive young women is suddenly murdered at the hands of America’s most powerful man (Gene Hackman) and his most loyal staff members.

It is also about a father who seeks to restore his relationship with his only daughter, a relationship crushed by his own actions many years earlier.

This script weaves three primary themes: betrayal, restoration, and “justice”. It is an eye-opening reminder that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Carefully crafted, it makes the “bad guy” look good (burglar/vigilante is the hero) and those who are normally trustworthy (Secret Service agents, the President of the USA, etc.) to appear unworthy of admiration.

Amazingly, “Absolute Power” probably would not even have made it into production just a few years ago. It simply does not engender respect for the office of the President. But, the writers seem to have observed national news reports carefully as they developed this script. “Absolute Power” is clearly based, in part, on the current social and political situation of the American presidency—a man faced with allegations of deceipt and sexual, political, and financial scandal. …Unfortunately, this production probably won’t have any truly beneficial effect on society. No other generation of American adults has been as apathetic about the “personal life” of their leader as the parents and grand-parents of the 1990's.

(Includes 9 profanities, near-rape sexual violence, blood spattering murder, and simulated oral sex—no nudity, but you know exactly what’s going on.)

Year of Release—1997 (February 14, 1997 wide)

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
I’m concerned about that reviewer who says she can’t remember Eastwood’s films combining violence and sex. What about Unforgiven which won awards. I haven’t seen any of Clint’s work since the foul Good, Bad and Ugly in 1968. Another person said the film was very realistic. That’s a frequently expressed term of admiration for movies which isn’t valid. My pastor and his wife are realistic subjects but you don’t see lives like theirs depicted in movies.

They also are exciting lives as they help the many people in their congregation. Concerning this film and many others of the modern mode, I see no valid reason for showing the sex act just because it happens. It is a private matter between the parties involved and only sick people would want to see someone’s private sexually behavior.
—Jo McCord, age 55
In response to Warren, I said I don’t think it is wrong to make films where the president is the suspect(Vince Foster’s death had a lot of mystery to it, I might add at no extra cost). I HAVE NEVER SEEN “Absolute Power” and I don’t like subjecting myself to gore, profanity or nudity. I think making films with those elements is sick, demented and gross. I was merely stating that the concept of a fictional president hiding murder information is not a disrespectful one.
—Michael C., age 15
I saw Absolute Power. I thought that it was an okay movie. I really could have done withouth the first 15 minutes of the movie. That was horrible. Other than that, I would go and see it again.
—Rebecca Wolfe, age 24
I… went to see Absolute Power and Shine. Although both movies contain nudity and violence, which no longer shocks me, (I have been to desensitized as George Will would say). I still found both movies to be horrifying. At least Shine had some good music and a few heartwarming seens. The only redeeming point about Absolute Power was the relationship between Eastwood’s character and his on screen daughter. I always suspect that Clint is delving (sp) up things from his personal life in scenes like those where a high class thief, Clint has always played sort of grey good and bad guys, is having heart to heart talks with his estranged daughter. I wonder what Eastwood’s religious beliefs are? I still admire some of his movies. I liked “In the Line of Fire.” Fire still has lots of violence but I don’t recall there being any objectionable sex scenes. Absolute is the first Eastwood movie where I can remember explicit sex and violence in tandem.
—Sterling Levell, age 34
Where have we come as Christians when teenagers can watch this garbage and not find the opening scene offensive and freightening? Have we so de-sensitized our children that they can “comfortably” view this and comment on it as if it were a baseball game. Why should it be a surprise when young people indiscriminately kill others when we, the “adults” give them absolutely no example of respect for human life? Just how close to the bottom are we?
—Warren Rue, age 55
It is hard to not like the anti-hero main character of this film. Mr. Eastwood is a thief with “high moral standards” who’s main desire in life is to re-establish the broken relationship with his grown daughter… and to steal a few million dollars as well. The way in which he engineers the downfall of the guilty is intriguing. However, once again, Hollywood has added too much implied sex and too much graphic violence. As with most films, it gets silly towards the end and then ends ludicrously.
—Steve Ulrich, age 38
I was disappointed by this movie. I found it too predictable. Boring. However, Clint’s character does have his moments. I went thinking that with Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman it HAD to be good. If you have time to kill, give it a shot. If you can’t afford to be disappointed-don’t bother. Please don’t take the kids! **
—Karen, age 33
(In my opinion) it’s not disrespectful to do films like this about the President. There’s another one with Wesley Snipes called “Murder at 1600” coming out in April and because our President (is accused of trying to) cover up and lie about such cases as filegate, Whitewatergate, travelgate, Indogate, Lippogate and illegal contributions and fundraisers, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did cover up a murder if he had to. …He still hasn’t admitted what he did to Paula Jones (which, hasn’t struck the media yet, has more evidence than the Anita Hill case).
—Michael C., age 15
Absolute Power is as dramatic and suspenseful as any Eastwood film couldbe expexted to be. With the exception of the unneccessarily explicit bedroom scene, my wife and I found the film to be well written and produced. It is a sad statement concerning the condition of our world, but the characters and circumstances are very believable. Given the current occupants of the White House, This film could well have been based on actual events (With allowances for theatrical license).
—Glenn Wyant, age 30