If you love action, suspense, and early ’90s cinema, you owe it to yourself to check out the 1993 Clint Eastwood thriller In the Line of Fire. The tense cat-and-mouse game between Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich is up there with John McClane vs. Hans Gruber and, uh, John McClane vs. Simon Gruber (what can we say, Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengence did cat and mouse very well.)
In the Line of Fire is streaming on Netflix right now, and you should watch it. Here’s why…
The Story Of A Secret Service Agent With PTSD
In the Line of Fire is the story of a Secret Service agent named Frank Horrigan who suffers from severe PTSD stemming from his inability to stop a murder when he was younger. Failing to save anyone would be traumatizing, but Frank didn’t let “anyone” get killed. It was the JFK assassination that he failed to stop.
When an ex-CIA agent calling himself Booth (after John Wilkes) makes it known that he plans to kill the current president, Horrigan begs to be put on active duty again. The middle-aged secret service agent wants a chance to make up for not saving Kennedy by making sure this president doesn’t get taken out. What follows is a tense back and forth as Booth continuously contacts Horrigan to tease him about letting John F. Kennedy get shot as Frank attempts to locate and stop the would-be assassin.
Inspired by a childhood meeting with then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Producer Jeff Apple began developing In the Line of Fire all the way back in the mid-’80s. Inspired by a childhood meeting with then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, apple hired writer Jeff Maguire to flesh out his idea, and the two Jeffs sold the script for what would become In the Line of Fire in 1992 to Rob Reiner’s production company Castle Rock.
Clint Eastwood was first on board the project, Robert De Niro nearly co-starred
Clint Eastwood was the first actor to sign on to the project, along with director Wolfgang Petersen. Together, Petersen and Eastwood tried to convince Robert DeNiro to play the part of the assassin Booth, but the Raging Bull star declined. This may have been a blessing in disguise, however, because John Malkovich gives one of the best performances of his career playing In the Line of Fire‘s antagonist.
Rene Russo stars as fellow Secret Service agent and Horrigan’s love interest, Lily Raines.
Meanwhile, the rest of the cast are no slouch either. Rene Russo stars as fellow Secret Service agent and Horrigan’s love interest, Lily Raines. Other Secret Service members include Dylan McDermott, Gary Cole, and the late John Mahoney of Frasier fame.
In the Line of Fire began filming in late 1992 on location in Washington, D.C.
In the Line of Fire began filming in late 1992 on location in Washington, D.C. The film used an existing set for scenes set inside the White House, while scenes taking place on Air Force One required a $250,000 set to be built. The movie also inserted digitized images from old Clint Eastwood movies into footage of the actual Kennedy assassination to make it look like Eastwood was really there during Frank’s traumatic flashbacks.
It was praised by Bill Clinton
The film drew praise from then-President Bill Clinton for its accuracy in the way it portrayed the Secret Service. The director, however, wasn’t sure if Clinton’s endorsement would help or hurt the film and decided not to use the President’s words to market In the Line of Fire.
It had the first-ever movie trailer available online.
The movie is famous for having the first-ever movie trailer available online. The In the Line of Fire trailer was downloaded 170 times in a week and a half—not impressive by today’s standards, but considering the small percentage of people who had internet-capable computers in 1993 and the even smaller percentage willing to put up with the crazy long download times that came with dial-up internet it’s a wonder the trailer was downloaded at all.
The movie earned close to $200 million globally on a budget of $40 million.
In the Line of Fire was released on July 8, 1993. Over the course of its theatrical run, the movie earned close to $200 million globally on a budget of $40 million. The movie wasn’t just popular with theatergoers but also with critics. The movie holds an impressive 96% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the critical consensus being, “A straightforward thriller of the highest order, In the Line of Fire benefits from Wolfgang Peterson’s taut direction and charismatic performances from Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich.
It’s not a Jack Ryan movie!
Today, the movie is probably best remembered as the movie your parents are thinking of when they say, “Weren’t there three Jack Ryan movies in the starring Harrison Ford in the ’90s?” If you come across this issue, kindly remind them that, “No, you’re thinking of In the Line of Fire with Clint Eastwood!” and then sit them down and have them stream In the Line of Fire on Netflix.
And make sure that you stay and watch it too because it’s a good movie.