Film Reviews

Power outage

Page 3 of 3

Eastwood's nothingness is nevertheless a distinctive nothingness. This is brought out in the way he refuses to come across as anything but Clint Eastwood. In Absolute Power, Luther is supposed to be not only a master thief but a master of disguise. And yet every time Luther turns up incognito, the shock is how much he hasn't changed. (It's like Tom Cruise in disguise and fooling none of us in Mission Impossible.) Why do movie stars think they will be camouflaged by a pasted-on billy-goat beard and horn-rimmed glasses? During one of the film's more ineptly staged getaways, Luther sheds his overcoat and shades and walks off disguised as a policeman, and you half expect someone to come up to him and ask, "Clint Eastwood?"

It's possible to make a great film about sexual depravity and cover-ups and crises of conscience--De Palma did it in Blow Out, which also centered on an inadvertent eavesdropping on a high-level political crime. But Eastwood isn't really interested in shaking us up the way De Palma did. When Luther doesn't step in to prevent a murder, the moment is just a blip. When John Travolta's sound engineer in Blow Out couldn't prevent his girlfriend's murder, it was harrowing. What Absolute Power is really about is not the awfulness of power, but something far more mundane: a veteran movie star who wants to ease his can-do image into the sunset. Like Luther, Eastwood wants to be perceived as a "classic." In Absolute Power, he's made the first AARP political thriller.

Absolute Power.
Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Judy Davis, Scott Glenn, Laura Linney, E.G. Marshall. Written by William Goldman. Directed by Eastwood. Opens Friday.

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Peter Rainer