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Absolute Power (1997) — CoverUps.com
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The Conspirators

Clint Eastwood — Luther Whitney
Gene Hackman — President Richmond
Ed Harris — Seth Frank
Laura Linney — Kate Whitney
Scott Glenn — Bill Burton
E.G. Marshall — Walter Sullivan

The Masterminds

Directed By: Clint Eastwood

Written By:
David Baldacci (book) and
William Goldman (screenplay)

Running Time: 2h 1 min

Rated R

See the movie trailer

Memorable Quotes

Luther Whitney: Remember, tomorrow is promised to no one.

***

Luther Whitney: I've got to go have my pacemaker checked, it has been so exciting talking to you.

***

Bill Burton: Miss Russell, I should've called the police that night but I was weak. You convinced me to stay silent. I regret that. Know this: every time I see your face, I wanna rip your throat out.

***

[Luther, in disguise, approaches the entrance of the Watergate Hotel]
Luther Whitney: [holds up a package] For Gloria Russell.
Watergate Doorman: Do I have to sign anything?
Luther Whitney: [walking away] No, you have an honest face.

***

Walter Sullivan: For eighty years, I've tried to live... a decent life. I've given a billion dollars to charity. If this comes to trial... none of that will be remembered. I'll just go out... the joke of the world.
Seth Frank: I understand, sir. I'll do what I can.
Walter Sullivan: [chuckles] Will you listen to me whine? I apologize, Mr. Frank. Bother me all you want, just do your job. And I'll try to do mine.

***

Gloria Russell: What do I do?
Bill Burton: Nothing. Because he's making a terrible mistake. He thinks he has time. He doesn't. Seth Frank's too good. He'll bring him in.
Gloria Russell: Then what?
Tim Collin: Then I kill him.

***

CoverUps.com Rating: 2 UFOs

By the CoverUps.com staff

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Luther Whitney, the perfectionist cat burglar portrayed by Clint Eastwood in Absolute Power, is a formidable presence indeed: meticulous, adept at disguise, elusive, solitary and, when he wants to be, irascibly charming.

As he pulls off his latest felonious adventure — raiding the manor of a rich Washington power broker — unexpected intruders force him to hide behind a one-way mirror. There he witnesses a young woman and an older man engage in drunken foreplay that turns rough, then nasty, before finally ending when two men in suits intervene and blow the woman away. Worst of all, Luther knows the participants. She was the wife of the tycoon he was robbing. And the adulterous man (Gene Hackman)? None other than the president of the United States.

The armed men (Scott Glenn and Dennis Haysbert) are Secret Service agents, and the Machiavellian dominatrix who rushes into the crime scene and starts cooking up the cover-up is Gloria Russell (Judy Davis), the White House chief of staff. What's striking about the queasy scene that Luther witnesses, as they cobble together a ridiculous story about a burglary attempt gone awry, is that it's also surprisingly funny.

Few movies are quite as cynical about the leader of the free world as Absolute Power. President Alan Richmond is a conniving, unscrupulous louse who'll do anything to eliminate the one witness. To stack the deck even more egregiously against our hero, the widower (E. G. Marshall) believes Luther is his wife's killer, and hires his own freelance assassin. How can the beleaguered old thief see his way clear on this one?

In ways that are as absurd as they are delightful. In screenwriter William Goldman's adaptation of the David Baldacci best seller, Luther's lonely battle with all the president's murderous henchmen unspools before us not as a paranoid thriller (ala The Parallax View) but as an almost comic tale of bad political manners. The story's cynicism never becomes overbearing because we're never pressured into taking anything seriously, except perhaps Eastwood's undeniable skill as a filmmaker.

As a director, Eastwood is at his effortless, cunning best: he deftly spins up the suspense at the beginning, but by the end he's whisking us along so efficiently that he can play down the climactic, violent plot points lesser directors would feel obliged to hammer us with — or even drop them entirely. As a star, he's utterly disarming. Watch him playfully spar with Ed Harris's homicide detective: rarely has Eastwood had such impish chemistry with another guy. The whole cast looks like they're having a grand old time, especially Davis, the infernal reckless villainess. What a fun, loco little movie Eastwood and Goldman have scared up. And what a beguiling and unconventional protagonist: Luther Whitney, the first cinematic superhero to proclaim his membership in the AARP.


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