Pigeon Watcher

In the Line of Fire conveys the ever evolving change stemming from President Kennedy’s assassination. It’s an intelligent, gripping hook for a Secret Service thriller, casting doubt on their abilities and the potential for additional failures.

It gives natural grit to Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood), aging out of the service and seemingly stuck in a singular moment when couldn’t save Kennedy. He acts as such, both slipping toward paranoia and dating himself through demeaning, sexist comments toward a woman agent (Renee Russo). Even by 1993 standards, it’s a boorish and outmoded personality, if fitting to a man living outside of time (if not so much for Russo who falls for the dated act). The ‘60s moved forward; he stalled.

In the Line of Fire wants to suggest the old methods still work

America progressed. Attitudes changed through the tumultuous decade Horrigan missed when recounting one day in his mind. Everything looks, feels, and seems tenser now. The President no longer rides in an open top vehicle, vitriol runs hotter, and politics are more exposed in the cable TV era. In the Line of Fire wants to suggest the old methods still work, hence Horrigan being the clear hero. It’s possible to witness Eastwood’s own leanings peeking through this script, predicting his career to follow as a conservative face.

The President doesn’t necessarily matter to In the Line of Fire. He’s in the background campaigning, an inanimate post to wrap the drama around. Politics don’t matter, although the unnamed President obviously runs as a Democrat. The choice to keep him nameless suits the Secret Service who protect regardless of party affiliation. Even the potential killer, played with appropriate seediness by John Malkovich, lacks sophisticated motives. He’s merely an obsessive, limited in nuance, if tremendous in ability to instill an uncomfortable vibe when his present.

As In the Line of Fire’s central conflict, Eastwood and Malkovich keep their smug, arrogant wordplay bouncing through phone lines, and capable direction keeps these conversations engaging. A reliance on tropes, like FBI agent tracing calls as Eastwood keeps Malkovich talking, dim real world plausibility, but the rest works. Made in a pre-internet era, trying to identify a killer without the convenience of social media makes In the Line of Fire, in retrospect, a pleasing throwback.

In The Line Of Fire 4K UHD screen shot

Video

Sporting some of the format’s richest image density, In the Line of Fire’s incredible HDR is worth referencing – a lot. Incredible shadows stay at the deepest black levels, pure and flawless. Crush only happens when the cinematography wants it to. Vivid contrast hits opposing peaks, intensity from lights brilliant in their glow. Marvelous stuff from Sony, easily a test for even the best displays.

Firm grain resolves easily from Sony’s beefy encode, avoiding noise by giving the film stock a significant bitrate. This lets detail flourish, sharpness pristine, texture flawless. It’s magic. Definition reaches and stays at reference quality. Every frame is 4K spectacle.

Brilliant color vibrancy brings the red, white, and blue in extremes. Deep color glows vividly, giving scenery dazzling beauty. Flesh tones resolve to a wholly natural degree. Every frame is splendid in some way, whether it’s clothing, a magazine rack, a tree-lined exterior, or something else all together.

Audio

Remixed to rich, full Atmos, activity levels become a near constant. Political rallies sweep into each speaker, the crowds spilling outward. Street level ambiance easily moves passing cars between the available channels. Heights fit in the usual helicopters, smoothly transitioning to the sides. It’s an excellent emboldening of the original 5.1, subtle in accentuating the design while updating it for the now.

There’s less drive through the low-end. A few deep, pounding moments from the score join limited action, like a door being kicked in, rumbling a touch. When Eastwood is surrounded by camera flashes, each of them provides a decent pop to sell his flu-induced state. Malkovich’s plastic gun offers the deepest jolt on the disc; each round produces a potent rumble.

Extras

Director Wolfgang Peterson delivers a solo commentary, followed by a making of entitled Ultimate Sacrifice. The latter is generic and dated, but still provides the necessary information. A Showtime special on the Secret Service, which liberally borrowed clips from the film, is a decent if brief look at the people behind the President’s protection.

Two featurettes, one on the now dated visual effects and the (also dated) second on counterfeit money, run around 10 minutes combined. Five deleted scenes are in rough shape during their five-minute runtime

In the Line of Fire
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

While typical thriller tropes fill time in the script, In the Line of Fire presents an engaging back-and-forth character drama.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 61 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: