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Luther Whitney (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran thief, ready to retire. His wife is dead. His daughter Kate (Laura Linney) is estranged. One last heist, at the seriously rich Walter Sullivan (E.G. Marshall) mansion, but Sullivan’s wife, Christy (Melora Hardin), unexpectedly changes her mind at the last minute, for reasons that become dramatically clear as Luther empties the giant vault, secured behind a one way mirror. As he hides from the unexpected homecoming, he sees Mrs Sullivan entertain a gentleman friend - the President of the United States (Gene Hackman). When rough sex turns to murder, the secret service headed the Chief of Staff (Judy Davis), tries to cover it up. Luther is eventually identified as the witness and homicide detective Seth Frank (Ed Harris) is assigned to the case.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There is a taut yet unhurried, almost deliberate pace to the opening first third of Absolute Power, in which the filmmakers relish their own powers: their creative juices flow with ease, too, as these veterans come together for a thriller that plays on Eastwood’s favoured notions of flawed but finally redeemed characters whose private lives are somehow incomplete or broken up by fate. 

The message is simple and predictable enough: absolute power corrupts absolutely. Even Judy Davis, as the (brilliantly conceived - and played - Chief of Staff), suffers from it. But it’s how these oldies get to it that makes it worth the ticket price. There is writer William Goldman, who’s been round the block a few times, Eastwood of course, as producer, director and star, Hackman, Ed Harris and Glenn Scott . . . even behind the scenes, the experience is awesome, with people like Henry Bumstead on production design. The one ‘youngster’ is cinematographer Jack Green, whose second feature was Twister. This is his third. 

Dramatically and cinematically, the film is fabulous until, the final third of its two hours, when everyone tries a tad too hard, from scriptwriter to director. (And I do wish we’d seen a First Lady somewhere.) But even so, the premise is gripping, the entire cast is great and the scenes between Eastwood and Harris are cinema magic.

Published July 17, 2003

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CAST: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Judy Davis, Scott Glenn, Dennis Haysbert, E.G. Marshall, Melora Hardin

DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood

SCRIPT: William Goldman (based on the novel by David Baldacci)

RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16 X 9 widescreen presentation

SPECIAL FEATURES: Production notes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: July 9, 2003 (sell-thru)

DVD RELEASE: Warner Home Video

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