When the home of a political heavyweight is raided by top burglar Luther Whitney (Clint Eastwood), he witnesses the owner’s wife in flagrante with the US President, Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman).

As the seduction turns violent, Secret Service agents over-react and kill the woman but in the ensuing chaos Whitney is able to steal a letter-opener smeared in blood. The White House spin the story to say the murder was perpetrated by a thief and a national manhunt ensues. Repulsed by the government’s lies, Whitney decides not to flee the country, despite police harassment but Detective Seth Frank (Ed Harris) realises his suspect’s weak spot is his relationship with estranged daughter Kate (Laura Linney), who is used to draw him into the open, making her a target for the increasingly desperate White House assassins…

Bill Clinton’s cigar-related excesses gave Absolute Power an unexpected relevance that doubtless boosted box office, but the film is strong enough to walk unaided. The male triumvirate are superb, with Eastwood proving shrewder in self-preservation than the vulnerable Hackman, while Harris lends his usual gravitas to the geriatric power struggle.

Laura Linney makes a substantial impact among the veterans, indicating the depth and range she would display from her breakthrough project, You Can Count On Me . The interplay between the Whitneys had a special relevance for the director who claims to have had his own family problems, and who casts his real daughter, Alison Eastwood, as an art student watching the old man sketch. ‘Don’t give up,’ she implores. ‘I never do,’ he responds.

Cast:Clint Eastwood (Luther Whitney), Gene Hackman (President Allen Richmond), Ed Harris (Seth Frank), Scott Glenn (Bill Burton), Laura Linney (Kate Whitney), Judy Davis (Gloria Russell), Dennis Haysbert (Tim Collin), Alison Eastwood (Art Student), Melora Hardin (Christy Sullivan), E.G. Marshall (Walter Sullivan), Richard Jenkins (Michael McCarty), Kenneth Welsh (Sandy Lord), Penny Johnson (Laura Simon), Mark Margolis (Red Brandsford),

Crew
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: William Goldman (from the novel by David Baldacci)

US / 121 minutes / 1997