A look at John Hinkley's 1981 assassination attempt against U.S. President Ronald Reagan.A look at John Hinkley's 1981 assassination attempt against U.S. President Ronald Reagan.A look at John Hinkley's 1981 assassination attempt against U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
On March 30, 1981 - a little over two months after taking office, Reagan was shot by a would be assassin named John Hinckley. Hinckley had no political agenda. He was just a disturbed young man with few prospects and not much interested in accomplishing anything - except that he was fixated on actress Jodie Foster, and thought that killing the president would make her notice him. This movie clearly portrays the seriousness of the shooting - which at the time was downplayed by most people - and makes clear that Reagan's life was very much in danger as he lay on the operating table. It also, I thought, offered a good look into the lives of both Hinckley and Reagan. I came away from this thinking that I knew both of them at least a little better than when it started. There was also a very solid depiction of the jockeying for position behind the scenes as the president was out of commission - highlighted, of course, by Secretary of State Alexander Haig's famous "I am in control" statement to the press. Personally, I thought perhaps the most poignant moment of the whole movie came as a reflection to that event, after Reagan had recovered and was back at work and decided to send a personal letter to Soviet president Brezhnev. Haig objected to the letter and wanted it redrafted, only to have Reagan insist on having it sent as he had written it and then icily remind Haig that "as far as I know, I am in control here." On the other hand, it was a bit disconcerting to hear the president of the United States referring to his wife as "mommy." Perhaps that reflected the nature of the dependence that Reagan had on Nancy in many ways. The portrayal of Nancy by Cynthia Nixon was interesting. There was a softer feel to Nancy than is often the case, although it was jarring to see her with Sarah Brady at the hospital after the shooting as both of their husbands were being operated on. James Brady was Reagan's press secretary, and was shot in the head by Hinckley. After Reagan came out of surgery, Nancy just says to Sarah (after they had been comforting each other) "I'm going home now," and Sarah is left completely alone in the hospital chapel, not knowing if her husband would live or die. That seemed very cold.
The performances here were outstanding. In the lead roles both Tim Matheson as Reagan and Kyle S. More as Hinckley were convincing, and the supporting cast held up their parts. This really is a well done movie. I have not read O'Reilly's book of the same name (although I have read O'Reilly's "Killing Lincoln") but I would think he was pleased with this adaptation. (9/10)
- Oct 20, 2016