In the Line of Fire (1993)



Critic Consensus: 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.

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Clint Eastwood delivers one of his finest performances, as a secret service agent haunted by his past in Wolfgang Petersen's taut thriller In the Line of Fire. Eastwood plays Frank Horrigan, a secret service agent who keeps thinking back to November 22, 1963, when, as an agent hand-picked by President Kennedy, he became one of the few agents to have lost a president to an assassin. Decades later, psychotic Mitch Leary (John Malkovich) is stalking another president (Jim Curley) running for re-election. He has spent long hours studying the psyche of Frank Horrigan, and he taunts Horrigan (feeling that there is a bond between them), telling him of his plans to kill the president. After his conversation with Leary, Horrigan makes sure he is assigned to presidential protection duty. Horrigan has no intention of failing his president this time around, and he is more than willing to take a bullet. But everything goes Leary's way -- he is smart and cagey and the president's aides refuse to alter the itinerary. As the election draws closer, Horrigan's chances to catch Leary look to be less and less a possibility, and he begins to doubt his own abilities -- both now and in the past, when Kennedy was murdered.
Action & Adventure , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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Clint Eastwood
as Frank Herrigan
John Malkovich
as Mitch Leary
Rene Russo
as Lilly Raines
Dylan McDermott
as Al D'Andrea
Gary Cole
as Bill Watts
Fred Dalton Thompson
as Harry Sargent
John Mahoney
as Sam Campagna
Jim Curley
as President
Sally Hughes
as First Lady
Clyde Kusatsu
as Jack Okura
John Heard
as Prof. Riger
Patrika Darbo
as Pam Magnus
Steve Hytner
as Tony Carducci
Tobin Bell
as Mendoza
Bob Schott
as Jimmy Hendrickson
Elsa Raven
as Leary's Landlady
Arthur Senzy
as Paramedic
Ryan Cutrona
as LAPD Brass
Lawrence Lowe
as FBI Technician
Brian Libby
as FBI Supervisor
Eric Bruskotter
as Young Agent
Patrick Caddell
as Political Speaker
Alan Toy
as Walter Wickland
Carl Ciarfalio
as CIA Agent Collins
Robert Peters
as Hunter
Tyde Kierney
as Police Captain Howard
Anthony Peck
as FBI Official
Rick Hurst
as Bartender
Joshua Malina
as Agent Chavez
William G. Schilling
as Sanford Riggs
Michael Kirk
as Computer Technician/Bates
Richard G. Camphuis
as Party Fat Cat
Robert Alan Beuth
as Man at Bank
Susan Lee Hoffman
as Woman at Bank
Donna Hamilton
as Reporter at Dulles
Cylk Cozart
as Agent Cozart
Aaron Michael Lacey
as Police Officer
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News & Interviews for In the Line of Fire

Critic Reviews for In the Line of Fire

All Critics (66) | Top Critics (18)

Petersen directs his film in a straightforward, workmanlike fashion-few surprises here -- and, curiously, for most of the film is better at establishing a kind of amiability than a hard tension.

Full Review… | July 30, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Director Wolfgang Petersen moves the story along, but his real job is to simply stay out of the way of his two racehorse lead actors. And he does.

Full Review… | July 30, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Every part of this film trades so heavily on Eastwood's presence that it is impossible to imagine it with anyone else in the starring role.

Full Review… | July 30, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The movie has a clear, simple thriller logic that's far more satisfying than the static variations-on-a-massacre construction of Eastwood's Dirty Harry pictures and spaghetti Westerns.

Full Review… | July 30, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

Despite the presence of all these action-flick cliches, In the Line of Fire works. Sure, it's no more than a formula movie, but it's an effective formula movie.

Full Review… | July 30, 2013
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Between them, director Petersen and screenwriter Jeff Maguire do a memorable job developing their characters in this story of personal and professional redemption.

Full Review… | July 30, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for In the Line of Fire


A sizzling, stunning and pulse-pounding edge of your seat thriller. An relentlessly exciting and thrilling ride. It's gripping, outstanding and unforgettable. Clint Eastwood gives a first-rate Oscar caliber performance, he has the charm, intensity and irresistible romantics that makes this one of the best performances of his career ever and just shows why he`s a movie star. John Malkovich is riveting, giving a chilling and charismatic performance that's just pure dynamite. Packs a piercing bullet of unrelenting suspense and explosive action. This is one Thriller you don't want to miss. It's cleverly constructed and well executed. A triumph by Director, Wolfgang Peterson. A classic cat and mouse mind-game. An exhilarating and adrenaline-pumping film.

Al S
Al S

Super Reviewer

The secret agent who was on duty in Dallas when Kennedy was shot wants a second chance as a maniac starts to threaten the president. John Malkovich delivers one of his greatest performances as ruthless psychopath (or is he?) who starts playing mind games with protagonist Eastwood, who is far from over his failure in the past. While the agent has to deal with a new team of coworkers, his past and his age, the stalker seeks the contact to him, raising questions like whether or not a president is worth taking a bullet for. Their phone conversations are great scenes of two worthy opponents, with the psycho having the advantage on his side for the longest times. Thankfully, the film never gets overly political or even patriotic, but sticks to its thriller theme and works great there. Of course, things lead to a very exciting showdown. A very satisfying, entertaining and engaging thriller.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer


Featuring an excellent script, great direction, and some wonderfully solid performances, this is a very exciting film, and one of the most taut, and suspense, and first-rate thrillers out there. Frank Horrigan is a veteran secret service agent who failed to save JFk from being assassinated. He's still haunted by his past three decades later, and it all comes rushing back to him when he starts receinving menacign phone calls from a sadistic man who stalks him and keeps making threats to not only take out the current president, but Frank as well. This new threat really starts to wear Frank down even more, but the situation also provides him with a long awaited chance at both redemption and closure. Oh sure, the film is slick, Hollywood-ized and not without some cliches, but despite all that, this is a tightly wound, occasionally very smart, and engaging thriller. What really makes a lot of it work is Jeff Maguire's great script, and the standout performances from a talented and notable cast. Eastwood brings genuine class, heart, and authenticity to the role of Frank, and John Malkovich, though he's now typecasted for this sort of thing, is truly mancing and scary as the cunning, devious, and psyche bruising antagonist. He's played some really great and chilling villains before, but this one easily deserves to be somewhere very near, if not right on top of that list. He brings jsut the right touch to keep the character from becoming a cartoon, or just mindless. Rene Russo is nice as a tough field chief working with Frank who, despite a rocky start, does begin to warm up to him and become one of the few people he can really trust, which is even more important when things really start to build up to the climax. Dylan McDermot is also fine, though a little rough around the edges in his turn as a rookie agent. It's fun seeing Gary Cole in a pre-Brady Bunch and Office Space role that's as far from comedic as you can get. I could really nit-pick if I wanted to, but it's really not all that necessary. This isn't the most ingenious film ever, but it's never dull, got a great set up, some really good characters, and the themes of guilt, redemption, and the commonalities between predator and prey are all examined in a well done and entertaining manner. I did like Ennio Morricone's score, but, honestly, I think that might be the only there here that could really be seen as rather weak and a little disappointing. All in all though, this really does have a great plot and is one of the best thrillers out there. Definitely give this one a watch and prepare yourself for Wolfgang Petersen and his great cast giving some of their best work. As a nice bonus, there's actually some good humorous moments as well that surprisingly fit in instead of sticking out awkwardly.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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