partnership between Clint Eastwood and Warner Brothers has now spanned
some 35 years and resulted in almost as many films, amongst them such
classics as Dirty Harry, Sudden Impact and The Unforgiven
as well as Eastwood’s more recent blockbusters like Mystic River
and Gran Torino.
Absolute Power is amongst several Eastwood titles being released on
Blu-ray in June. The film boasts a stellar cast including Ed Harris,
Laura Linney, Gene Hackman, Judy Davis and of course Eastwood, who also
directed. Based on the accomplished novel by David Baldacci,
Absolute Power’s screenplay was penned by the legendary novelist and
screenwriter William Goldman, who in addition to his numerous film
scripts and dramatic works also wrote a little book called The
Princess Bride, and the presence of masterful composer Lennie
Niehaus lends further cache to an already star-studded feature.
such an impressive pedigree the film couldn’t help but be brilliant,
right? Well, not exactly. Barely recouping its budget of $50 million,
the film received a decidedly lukewarm reception from critics and
currently holds a modest 46% approval rating on the aggregate review
site Rotten Tomatoes.
get off to a highly promising start. Eastwood stars as Luther Whitney,
a master jewel thief intent on one final score before retirement. He
breaks into the home of the elderly but extremely powerful billionaire
Walter Sullivan (E.G. Marshall), but before the heist can be completed
he is surprised by the return of Sullivan’s trophy wife (The Office’s
Melora Hardin) and one of her numerous lovers. Taking refuge in a huge
mirrored closet the ex-con inadvertently witnesses the woman’s murder,
and a lethal game of cat-and-mouse subsequently ensues between Whitney,
police and the Secret Service, who are wiling to go to desperate lengths
in order to keep the killer’s identity under wraps.
this adept and tersely-executed opening, with its unmistakable echoes of
Hitchcock and David Lynch, the plot sadly veers onto some unlikely, not
to mention downright loony territory. Murderous G-Men, a psychotic
White House Staffer (Davis), a middling Hackman and other assorted
cartoon characters vie for screen time, and the film’s several plot
holes grow increasingly crater-sized as the story unwisely deviates from
what was, in novel form, a well-structured and markedly more plausible
film’s saving grace is Ed Harris, who puts in a predictably convincing
performance as the Detective in charge of the investigation, and Linney
is likewise excellent as Whitney’s estranged daughter Kate, a successful
prosecutor in her own right. Niehaus’s accomplished score is
alternately moody and melodious, Goldman’s screenplay solid and
Eastwood’s direction is, at times, inspired.
Unfortunately however the film fails to live up to its potential, and as
suspension of disbelief turns to downright incredulity any impact it may
have had is ultimately diluted to near-nothingness.
Absolute Power, like the other Eastwood efforts seeing the light of
day on HD this month, is affordably priced at around $15-20.
Picture quality is again slightly grainy, which seems to be a recurrent
problem with Warner Brothers’ Blu-ray releases, though the DTS-HDMA 5.1
soundtrack is superb. As with the other Eastwood outings there are no
bonus features, and given the negligible improvement in video quality
fans of the film might want to stick with the DVD release, which is
available for next to nothing and contains a couple of extras in the
form of behind the scenes notes, cast profiles and so on.