Murder at 1600 (1997) Poster

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8/10
No Hollywood stereotypes, at last
Jack Yan27 July 2000
Murder at 1600 is an enjoyable thriller. There are some formula aspects as other reviewers have mentioned, but on the whole the plot – a murder within 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – leaves the viewer in some suspense. As a "whodunnit", the movie succeeds, and as for this reviewer, the murderer and the actual conspiracy isn't evident till near the end. Wayne Beach and the late David Hodgin create enough plot twists to keep most viewers guessing. Director Dwight Little keeps things tight and well-paced. There is a good sense of logic to Murder at 1600's execution.

It's arguably one of the best films Snipes has starred in. Known more for his tough-guy roles in Passenger 57 and Demolition Man, it's refreshing to see Snipes as a detective who relies more on thinking than weaponry. Revelations keep Snipes' character, Det Harlan Regis, pursuing new leads – just as any logical audience member would. Regis, a history buff who has recreated battles with miniature models in his living room and a well-respected detective, puts both his police training and interests to use. Beach and Hodgin have also humanized Regis: he is about to be evicted – a fact that is quickly introduced in the film's opening sequence – and he and his fellow tenants' problem is solved in a refreshing way.

Diane Lane plays a Secret Service agent, Nina Chance, who begins to suspect a cover-up at the White House and assists Regis. It's established early on that she brought home the gold in sharpshooting at the 1988 Olympics – and her skills are put to good use in several action scenes. Unlike most TV heroines, her aim doesn't get better as the ending nears. There's a welcome consistency that's seldom seen from Hollywood, where the hero often loses a fight at the beginning yet miraculously triumphs at the end. It's a real pleasure to see Lane back in a high-calibre film; for too long we've seen her in forgettable fare such as Judge Dredd and Knight Moves. Lane's acting ability should keep her in the limelight, one hopes – she is an actress who doesn't deserve to fade in her 40s. This will depend on whether the establishment will come to its senses about its ageist attitude toward actresses.

The cast is ably supported by the menacing Daniel Benzali; Alan Alda comes to Snipes's aid as the National Security Adviser to the President; Ronny Cox is a president in crisis as American troops are held hostage in North Korea; Tate Donovan as the president's playboy son. Every character, with the exception of Snipes's sidekick played by Dennis Miller, has a part to play in the plot; thanks to a better-than-usual casting job by the duo of Amanda Johnson and Cathy Sandrich (often good with mysteries) the roles are very well filled.

And refreshingly for Hollywood, we do not have a male European-American hero saving the day with his African-American sidekick. There have been enough biases against minorities in casting films. And there have also been enough films that take things too far the other way. The race issue is never played in this film: director Dwight Little treats each character as a regular person, just like in real life where the majority of us don't give an iota what colour or creed someone is.

Some parts of Christopher Young's score are not terribly fitting although on the whole he does a good job. Sound effects are well handled in this film as is the editing; both contribute well to the suspense and the mood. Steven Bernstein's photography cuts between the real and created White Houses well, and contributes well to the film's overall effect.

This is one of the best and most logical films that has come out of Hollywood for some time. It will not insult many viewers' intelligence for starters. While not 100 per cent original, it is a very well-made film that rests on a solid plot and direction.
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9/10
'Thriller' at 1600
Derek Rushlow21 November 2005
At first, it appears as though it will be your typical, by-the-numbers political thriller. Then, as the movie progresses, it gets better and better, thanks to a fast pace and lots of exciting action scenes.

'Murder at 1600' focuses on the discover of a brutally-murdered intern in the White House. Two detectives (Wesley Snipes and Dennis Miller) are assigned to the case, with White House security personnel limiting the detectives with classified information which may be useful to the case. Lucky for them, a dedicated Secret Service Agent (Diane Lane) reluctantly helps.

Although it gets predictable at times (especially at the end), it's still a fun little thriller. It really gives you a deep feeling of paranoia as well!
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7/10
Adequate thriller
xredgarnetx16 September 2007
MURDER AT 1600 came near the end of Wesley Snipes' theatrical career, before he went STV, and it is a decent-enough, Canadian-lensed thriller about the discovery of a young woman's brutally murdered body in the White House. Could the president's bully of a son (Tate Donovan) have killed her? Or are there more sinister forces at work here? For better or worse, the identity of the killer is made plain just past the halfway mark. But that doesn't mean you can't go along for the ride as shadowy assassins try to keep Snipes, as a D.C. detective, and Diane Lane, as a sympathetic Secret Service agent, from uncovering the truth. Snipes is in tip top shape here and is surrounded by several great character actors: Ronny Cox as the president, Harris Yulin as a hawkish general and Alan Alda as a presidential adviser. Daniel Benzali, who some of you might remember from a short-lived TV crime show some years ago, is on hand as a senior Secret Service agent and Dennis Miller has a small role as a fellow D.C. detective. While MURDER AT 1600 is not a first-rate action film -- for one thing, it is chock full of tired plot devices -- it is certainly watchable. And it beats anything Snipes has done since going STV.
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Right Off The Hollywood Assembly Line
Lechuguilla2 September 2007
At least the whodunit puzzle left me guessing. But that's the only redeeming quality of this pretentious mystery, set at the White House. A lone, good guy cop (played by Wesley Snipes) goes up against the rich and powerful. Our hero fights the bullies and the bad guys with courage and daring. It's a tired, stale concept.

The story is chock-full of pretentious, self-important, irritatingly hip characters, most of them conveniently photogenic. The plot contains lots of chases and some fight scenes. It also contains the obligatory in-your-face news media frenzy, and other tiresome film clichés. The dialogue is banal. Example: "Section 6 secure"; "Go. Freeze!". The film's ending is unimaginative and trite.

Color cinematography is adequate, if conventional. Production design is detailed and quite convincing. Acting is average. The nondescript background music is very manipulative.

"Murder At 1600" comes across as your typical big-budget, high profile film right off the Hollywood assembly line. It's got visual pizazz and lots of "action". But the story lacks substance and depth, the characters are stereotyped, and the dialogue is vapid. It's just one more example of how Hollywood throws production megabucks as substandard screenplays.
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7/10
An intriguing premise.
Hermit C-227 August 1999
When it comes to thrillers I usually find that smaller is better. I almost always enjoy the small independent films with the second- and third-levels stars rather than the big Hollywood productions made with the A-team that cater to a broader public taste. But when your thriller is set at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia, it's awfully hard for a low-budget production to pull it off credibly. Besides, I'm interested in the presidency and like films that purport to give you a behind-the-scenes look, even if it is fictional, so I gave 'Murder at 1600' a chance.

Of course, if the movie is going to be longer than 15 minutes, you have to allow it some license. A lot of its success is based on how much you're willing to let go without saying, "Wait a minute!" A lot, too, depends on the cast and Wesley Snipes is a likable enough actor. Diane Lane is a big plus here as the Secret Service agent who works with him. They have a typical rocky relationship, but it's enjoyable. Daniel Benzali is ominous as the head of Secret Service. Snipes asks him what it would take for him to see some White House records and Benzali dryly answers, "Oh, not much. Just an act of Congress." Other veterans in the cast include Alan Alda, Ronny Cox and Harris Yulin. Bigger wasn't necessarily better this time but it was good enough.
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4/10
Wow, Does This Deteriorate After A Good First Half
ccthemovieman-119 February 2008
The first hour of this movie was very entertaining, even if it did offer up the normal clichés of the day. It featured good suspense and a likable hero played by Wesley Snipes. I was really enjoying this, but - yes, but - the film goes right down the tubes in the last 40 minutes. The last 20 minutes will really have you cringing.

Not only does the story get convoluted, it loses all credibility. A murder at the White House and no FBI? That's just one of many loopholes. We wind up getting the same tired military-and U.S. government-are-the-bad guys bias that we've seen upteen times in the past 40 years. Hey, the film is entertaining but if you have a brain, you might have problems with this story.

By the way, any film that includes post-MASH Alan Alda or pre-9/11 Dennis Miller is usually pretty bad. We get both in this film.

The ending is so ludicrous, such an insult to anyone's intelligence, that is has to offend anyone, regardless of their political persuasion. This is one of the few films that ends so poorly that both Liberals and Conservatives would agree.

In fact, most people agreed that this film was great for the first half, horrible in the second and was filled with too many clichés that ruined a movie which good have been a good one. Another clue to what you have here is that this was directed by the same guy who did "Halloween 4" and "Free Willy 2."
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8/10
Standard fare, but well done.
kmaclean14 September 2005
Great performances by Ronny Cox and Wesley Snipes. A standard political thriller, made more interesting by Snipes' character's interest in history. He has made huge models of the DC area in his apartment, and uses them to solve a murder case that threatens to bring down the president. The gorgeous Diane Lane gives a creditable performance as a secret service agent. I liked the fact that the two main characters never have sex. Their relationship suggests it, and I kept waiting for the usual (and boring) bedroom scene. Sex is often used as a gimmick to hold interest in a boring plot and uninteresting characters. You either like the plot and this movie for what it is, or you don't.
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9/10
based on a novel by Margaret Truman
rtroy7 April 2008
This film is based on a novel by Margaret Truman, daughter of President Harry Truman and First Lady Bess Truman. For some reason, she is not given credit here on IMDb for the work that this film is based on.

As to the movie itself, I would agree that in certain ways it would be somewhat implausible, yet I still find it quite entertaining, and easy to watch any time it pops up on TV, these days in High Def, looking far better then it has in years. I like Wesley Snipes - persistent, a pain in the behind, never willing to give up with so much at stake. And I find that Diane Lane is at her best here - not trying to be attractive, yet amazingly so, showing that she can and ought to be an action adventure type of actor as much as any other type of work that she gets into. And after all the lies and other nonsense that has come out of the Nixon, Reagan and Dubya administrations, maybe this doesn't seem all that impossible after all.
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8/10
Loved the chemistry
akhilles8419 January 2002
This movie undoubtedly has one of the best pairings of movies in late 90's,that of Snipes and Lane.Diane Lane is at her most beautiful and enchanting here and i liked her performance.Snipes is as always very cool and strong and shows depth.Its amazing how someone can show depth in action and criminal movies as he does.Blows my mind.

Film has a decent story and issue.It has already been worked up by Eastwood in "Absolute power".Its about people in key positions who use their power to achieve their own secret goals and do what they like.Alan Alda is very good as the stern villain who secretly works against the president played equally well by Ronny Cox.Benzali and Donovan make good supporting roles.

But what is the best thing with this is the chemistry between lead stars.Even if Wesley and Diane dont get involved romantically,their relationship makes it worth to watch even without the love scenes.They have quiet strength and strong charisma.And their bond is a great one.

This is a good 8/10.
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Premise of entire movie wrong
marknelson720 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I could not get three things out of my head the entire time I watched this movie, therefore ruining it for me.

First, if a Federal employee is murdered on Federal property, it is a Federal crime, and therefore under the jurisdiction of the F.B.I., not the local city police department. This movie would have been much better if the FBI was in charge, and the local city cop, who had no business being there, had to fight against both the Secret Service and the FBI to obtain justice for the person being framed.

Second, the Secret Service agent assigned to help Regis did not realize the First Family was in the White House at the time of the murder until the movie was almost over. Give me a break! Any Secret Service agent assigned to the White House would know exactly where the President was at all times.

Third, what was the motivation of the assisting Secret Service agent to help Regis after she had been told to stop helping him? She stole evidence and killed several people without ever stating her reasons for doing so. How about a little love story at least to make her character somewhat interesting!

Also, it was too bad that Alan Alda's good name had to be soiled with such a bad movie. His character was the only one that was remotely interesting.
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