Absolute Power - * * *

An abrupt ending mars a strong character-driven thriller in Absolute Power. Clint Eastwood directs and stars as Luther Whitney, a master thief on the brink of retirement. However, before he quits, he pulls one job he probably shouldn’t have. He breaks into the wealthy Sullivan household, and is interrupted before he has finished. The lady of the household has returned with a man in tow: The President of the United States, Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman). The President and Mrs. Sullivan engage in some rough sex which turns sour…ending in the death of Mrs. Sullivan. Unbeknownst to the President, or the others present (Scott Glenn and Dennis Haysbert as two secret service agents, and Judy Davis as the Chief of Staff), Luther has witnessed the entire affair. When the group decides to frame the murder on a burglar, Luther becomes the number one suspect. Running from the police (led by Ed Harris) and the secret service, Luther has only his daughter, attorney Kate Whitney (Laura Linney) to turn to. But years of neglect have left her unsympathetic to his cause. The strength on Absolute Power is its character interactions. It is fascinating watching the various actors interact, and most of their exchanges are captivating. Only Hackman and Davis seem to consistently hit the wrong notes. Although the setup of the film is somewhat farfetched, the performances are able to carry you all the way through to the conclusion. However, the conlcusion seems rushed, and ends with a development that makes you think, “Why didn’t they just do that before?”. But, although the plot is lightweight, Eastwood and co. make the characters so interesting that they’d be worth watching even if there was no plot at all. The fact that they’re in a entertaining, though farfetched thriller just enhances the package.

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