Based on the acclaimed book written by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, The Final Days chronicles president Richard Nixon's administration during his critical period after the Watergate ... See full summary »
David Ogden Stiers
Lionel Chetwynd's excellent script, based largely upon Walter Isaacson's biography of Henry Kissinger, cogently limns a primary motive for President Nixon's National Security Advisor's desire for ending American military involvement in Vietnam: desire for private power. The film essentially addresses that period in 1972/3 when Nixon and Kissinger worked together, despite obvious tension between them, to bring the war to an end. The President did not want a peace settlement until directly before the 1972 election in order to enhance his chances of winning by a landslide, but Kissinger organized top-secret peace talks in Paris with both Vietnamese governments, raising a question as to his true goal in crafting an accord - peace or personal popularity? When negotiations among representatives from Washington, Saigon and Hanoi fail, bombing of civilian targets in North Vietnam follows, and we sense that Kissinger is opposed to such an action, since his espousal of earlier bombing attacks is not mentioned. Political machinations throughout the negotiation period engaging Nixon's staff, and the Pentagon, are well-drawn in a soundly organized script. Veteran director Daniel Petrie leads with his customary skill and periodically intersperses, to good effect, actual wartime footage amid the main element of this work: realpolitik. Although he has sporadic difficulty with emulation of Kissinger's Teutonic accent, one could not wish for a better characterization than that provided by latex bedaubed Ron Silver, who obviously not only studied but mastered the future Secretary of State's mannerisms. Skillful Matt Frewer answers the call, in this very well-cast production, as General Alexander Haig, and his performance is splendidly nuanced, in no small part due to Petrie's careful direction and the fine editing of Stephen Lawrence. Capable acting turns also come from Beau Bridges as Nixon and Canadian Ron White as H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, yet it is Silver's delivery of the line "I will bring peace despite all this deceit around me" which a viewer will recall as an example of the curious irony which marks this well-wrought film.
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