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absolute power , the new film produced and directed by clint eastwood , attempts to be a thriller set in the world of hypocritical presidents and their murderous political staff .
it is about as thrilling as a lecture on the mating habits of the south american grasshopper .
one can only wonder how an utterly absurd script like the one written by william goldman could have ever interested eastwood .
not only is the plot unbelievable and contrived , but even the writing itself lacks any consistency or intelligence .
continually underestimating the audience , the film gives us information we already know or dont even need .
details essential to the story are so improbably convenient they are annoying ( like why would two unprepared secret service men carry two night-vision goggles in their car ? ) .
oddly enough , the initial setup for absolute power offers interesting possibilities .
a masterful jewel-thief ( played by clint eastwood ) witnesses the murder of the wife of a powerful millionaire ( played by e . g .
marshall ) .
while robbing one of marshalls mansions , he is forced to hide in the bedrooms vault .
there , through a two-way mirror , he sees the wife and another man engage in passionate foreplay .
their game of love quickly turns into a violent struggle as the man starts beating the woman .
in self defense , the woman grabs a letter-opener and stabs the man in the elbow .
she raises her arm to stab again when she is fatally shot by two secret service men .
the man ?
he is the president of the united states of america .
where does the film go wrong ?
it cannot be the acting .
clint eastwood , ed harris and gene hackman as the president give type-cast , but decent performances .
the cinematography is sufficient ; wild and erratic during action sequences , dark and mysterious during psychologically suspenseful scenes , and calm and warm during dramatic dialogue .
even the music is not as bombastic as it usually tends to be in the thriller/suspense genre .
the fault clearly lies in the screenplay , and the screenplay alone .
while setting up a story about misuse of power , about the true possessors of that power , and about intrigue and double-crossing , it does not resolve it .
not one buildup of suspense is resolved by an exciting climax .
rather , the tense situations are left dangling at the end , giving the viewer an uneasy sense of incompleteness .
an example of this is a very promising and tense buildup of a scene : in an attempt to arrest clint eastwood , the police have set up a trap at a small restaurant .
police officers are everywhere , incognito of course .
at the same time , not one but two hit men are preparing to kill clint eastwood when he arrives .
all three parties are unaware of each others presence .
this scene is tremendously exciting and the audience is wondering how clint eastwood , who might suspect this is a trap , will get himself out of this difficult position .
he will probably have a brilliant plan , involving ingenious preparations .
however , when he arrives at the trap , both hit men miss ( how convenient ) and in the confusion eastwood simply walks away .
the buildup of this scene took about ten minutes .
ten minutes of close ups of the hit men loading their weapons intercut with the police preparing for the trap .
the scene was resolved in less than 20 seconds . . .
parallel to the story line of catching the real killer is a cliche emotional tale about the estranged relationship between father eastwood and his daughter .
the daughter blames her father for never being there for her , because he was either in jail or robbing a house somewhere .
of course their relationship takes a turn for the better during the adventure and they end up a happy family .
again , it is commendable that absolute power tries to deviate from the mainstream suspense film by giving room for a dramatic subplot .
however , trying is simply not enough !
the second story line should be subtle , original and preferably unpredictable . . .
everything this film is not .
how could a screenplay like absolute power ever get the funding to be produced ?
how could eastwood , who has successfully produced and directed many outstanding films such as the brilliant unforgiven , ever believe in a project like this one ?
i am sad to say that my respect for the actor/director/producer has diminished substantially due to this film .
director quentin tarantino once said : " i can make a good movie out of any bad script . "
director clint eastwood obviously cannot .