Based on the novel by David Baldacci, Absolute Power is about the ruthlessness of people in power. The President believes that everything he does is beyond reproach, including an affair or two. That leads to murder and everyone around him is involved. There is only one witness, a thief named Luther Whitney. They are sure he'll talk, but when? The Secret Service is determined to keep him quiet, but catching a thief isn't always easy. Written by
Kristie Murray <email@example.com>
What starts out with immense potential gradually evaporates into preposterousness in ABSOLUTE POWER. That doesn't make it an entirely bad picture, but it certainly puts a damper on what could have been. Clint Eastwood is an aging thief (he's been an aging something or other for his last 20 movies) who secretly witnesses President Gene Hackman get rough with his mistress. The encounter ends with her being shot by the Secret Service as she tries to defend herself, and the incident is promptly disguised to look like run-of-the-mill foul play. He may be on the outside of the law looking in, but Clint ain't about to let the powers that be get away with this one.
The opening 20 minutes of ABSOLUTE POWER are quite suspenseful, bordering on mesmerizing. There we are, trapped in a walk-in, two-way mirrored vault along with our pilfering hero, helpless to stop the horror unfolding just meters away. Eastwood may start out as the bad guy, but his status is quickly upgraded as he flees the scene holding what may be the only piece of evidence that can prove his astonishing observation. From then on we find ourselves rooting him on, even if he is in reality nothing more than the lesser of two evils.
What unravels ABSOLUTE POWER is its laziness and improbability. In an attempt to set up one stirring scene after another, the characters begin doing and saying things one would expect of a low-rate Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. A one-dimensionally evil Secret Service man surreptitiously hunkers down in a tall building trying to snipe Eastwood ala Lee Harvey Oswald. A police detective has no problem with Eastwood sneaking around his home at all hours of the night. A three-minute argument by Eastwood's thief is enough to convince the mistress's widower of the involvement of the most powerful man on earth. And to call the ending outlandish and unsatisfying would be a pair of understatements.
As well, though it's usually the other way around, ABSOLUTE POWER would have benefited from a longer running time. One comes away with the sense that Eastwood, who also directed, tried to cram too much into too little. The film certainly had the material to go longer, and its compactness gives the whole endeavor a choppy feel at times.
ABSOLUTE POWER is a film you really want to like. There is considerable talent involved here, and the movie's heart seems to be in the right place. But like that one photo we all have in our album, this one didn't turn out as good as we would have hoped.
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