Ed Harris and Clint Eastwood in Absolute Power.
Clint Eastwood has directed some 30 movies. In his 20th outing as director, Eastwood proves that experience alone does not necessarily make for a great film. Eastwood directs himself as an old jewel thief, Luther. While robbing a very wealthy home he witnesses the President of the United States having an affair, and the murder of the woman with the President. As he is a criminal, he does not come forward. He instead decides to flee the country, but after watching a newscast of the President pretending to grieve with the dead woman's husband, Luther feels compelled to take action.
The movie never really makes complete sense. First of all, Luther is a thief, and as such, is not an honorable man. He witnesses a woman get beat up and does nothing to stop it. Only when he sees the President about to get away with the assault does he decide to step in. His decision to leave the country also does not make sense. His only joys in life are art and spying on his estranged daughter. He would never leave her no matter how badly the danger. Later in the movie he risks his life to just see her.
Absolute Power has some problems. Eastwood wears some of the worst disguises since Superman put on some glasses and parted his hair on the other side. A mere pair of glasses or an obviously fake mustache are the best this "master thief" can come up with? Another weakness is in the editing. Early on, some secret service agents race up the stairs of a mansion to get Eastwood. He has time to get out his rope, attach it to a bed, throw it out the window and slowly lower himself down to the ground before the agents ever get in the room. Then they all of-a-sudden catch up to him in the woods and that is after they raced back down the stairs and stopped by their car to get some night goggles.
What Absolute Power has going for it, is a great cast. It has some of the best balding actors of the last twenty years. Maybe it's a coincidence or maybe Eastwood just didn't want to be the only balding actor on the screen. Scott Glenn has the best Eastwood like line in the movie. "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."
Eastwood dominates Absolute Power but his Luther is never really all that likable. He abandoned his family and is a shameless criminal. The movie tries to get you to care for him by showing his concern for his daughter, but it never really pulls you in. Only Laura Linney and Ed Harris play sympathetic characters, but they have very limited screen time. Had the movie expanded on their merely hinted at relationship, the movie might have found a more relatable emotional core than just a jewel thief who occasionally stalks his daughter.
Photos © Copyright Columbia Pictures (1997)