[Screen It]


(1997) (Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Mild Heavy Moderate Moderate
Mild Minor Moderate None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate None Minor Minor Heavy

Suspense: An older thief witnesses a murder that involves the President of the United States.
Luther Whitney (CLINT EASTWOOD) is a master thief who breaks into the home of billionaire Walter Sullivan (E.G. MARSHALL). During the robbery, Luther is surprised when Sullivan's wife, Christy (MELORA HARDIN) shows up with Alan Richmond (GENE HACKMAN), the President of the United States. Luther watches in amazement and horror as their sexual encounter turns violent and is shocked when Secret Service agents Bill Burton (SCOTT GLENN) and Tim Collin (DENNIS HAYSBERT) misinterpret the encounter and shoot Christy dead. White House Chief of Staff Gloria Russell (JUDY DAVIS) then begins a cover up and blames the murder on a botched robbery that leads detective Seth Frank (ED HARRIS) to eventually come to the conclusion that Luther is their man. With a vital piece of evidence in his possession, Luther must figure out how to contend with the police, the secret service, and his estranged daughter Kate (LAURA LINNEY) who unknowingly gets tangled in this deadly web of murder and deceit.
If they're fans of any of the stars, or of suspense/thrillers, they just might.
For violence, sexuality and language.
  • CLINT EASTWOOD plays a thief who must figure out how to resolve the sticky problem he finds himself in.
  • GENE HACKMAN plays a corrupt President who tries to cover up a murder he's involved with.
  • ED HARRIS plays a detective who's a good role model.
  • SCOTT GLENN plays a Secret Service agent who, under direct orders, tries to cover up the crime and have Luther killed.


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    This is a moderately successful suspense film that just doesn't have enough thrills to make it a great movie, let alone a classic of the genre. Although it has more star power than many other movies combined, the film never quite clicks and thus leaves the audience rather dissatisfied. The production has decent performances from its array of actors, but none of them stand out and all appear to be playing roles stereotypical of themselves (Eastwood as the quiet, but gruff older man, Hackman as the corrupt man in power, etc...). The movie has some awkwardly written dialogue such as Luther talking to his daughter: "I swear on Maddie's grave. Yeah, that's right. Your mother's grave. I'd kill myself before I'd lie about that." Wouldn't Kate know who her mother is? Such dialogue and other scenes that are poorly introduced and constructed come as a surprise since the screenplay adaption was done by Oscar winner William Goldman ("Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid" and "All the President's Men"). If you'd read the novel you'd know what was going on, but for those who didn't, many of the brief scenes are probably rather confusing. Of course that often happens when novels are adapted to the big screen as it's hard to compress characters' thoughts, the back story, and all of the plot into two hours of screen time. But here they've dramatically altered the plot, including keeping Luther alive (while he's killed three quarters of the way through the novel). What they left out are the clever ways in which Luther has to solve his problem. And that takes most of the fun out of the movie. Things just happen, instead of characters working to make them happen. Since we know who the killer is, the plot has to keep us guessing as to how Luther's problems will be resolved. In this adaption, it comes too easily for Luther and thus is somewhat of a disappointment. By no means is this a horrible film and there are some fun lines and scenes here and there. You just wish there were more of them. The film is certainly easy to watch (which isn't hard with all the great actors involved) and is sure to please many viewers. Having read the book, however, one wishes that so much wasn't changed or deleted in this adaption. It could have been a lot better, and thus we give it just a 6 out of 10.
    There are just a few areas of moderate concern in this production. There's one rather sultry sexual scene that turns violent, but no nudity is seen. Hackman's character does get rough with the woman who fights back and ends up being shot to death. There are several violent encounters and the ever present threat from the Secret Service agents who try to kill both Luther and his daughter. Two people commit suicide (not seen on screen) and Luther kills one man. Considering the subject material, profanity isn't too bad, with 5 "f" words being the worst. A big part of the plot deals with trying to cover up a crime and Luther is a thief, thus many characters aren't good role models. While older teens will probably be able to easily digest the content, we wouldn't suggest this movie for younger kids. Still, those decisions lie with you, and we suggest that you read through the category listings to make that determination.

  • Luther has a beer in a bar.
  • Luther has wine with dinner by himself.
  • Richmond and Christy Sullivan show up at her house drunk, and he's carrying a bottle of liquor. They drink more and his later actions are attributed to him being drunk.
  • Luther drinks a beer while watching a football game.
  • People drink wine at a White House reception.
  • Walter drinks brandy with the hit man he's hired to assassinate the killer.
  • Christy has a bloody nose after Richmond hits her.
  • Blood splatters onto Richmond and the carpet as Christy is shot twice. Later her dead body is seen several times (with a bloody bullet hole wound in her neck), as is the blood soaked carpet.
  • Kate has bloody looking bruises on her face when she's seen in the hospital.
  • Luther is a thief and breaks into the Sullivan home and steals a large amount of their holdings.
  • Richmond and Christy have an affair, although both are married and Richmond claims to be best friends with Christy's husband, Walter. Later, Richmond appears with Walter still claiming the friendship and fakes public grieving over the dead woman.
  • A woman makes fake I.D.'s (passports, drivers license, etc...) for Luther.
  • Walter hires a hit man to assassinate whoever the killer is.
  • Russell, Collin, and Burton continually try to cover up the fact that Richmond was involved with the crime, although they know that it's wrong to do so.
  • Luther has to disarm the alarm system at the Sullivan home before its counter reaches zero. Later, he hears someone in the house and must hide from them.
  • Burton and Collin see someone in the Sullivan mansion and race upstairs after them. Luther sees the agents and has to get out of the house before they find him. Later, there's a chase through the woods as the agents try to catch him.
  • In a scene where Luther is to meet Kate, both Collin and a hit man hired by Walter prepare to shoot Luther.
  • Collin prepares to kill Kate with a syringe in a hospital.
  • Letter opener: Used by Christy to stab Richmond in the arm.
  • Handguns: Used by Burton and Collin to shoot Christy dead when they think she's attacking the President.
  • Sniper rifles: Used by both a hit man and Collin in the same scene to try to kill Luther.
  • Syringe: Used to kill a man.
  • Breaking into people's homes.
  • Phrases: "Bitch," "Bastard," "Whore" and "Shut up."
  • A woman makes fake I.D.'s (passports, drivers license, etc...) for Luther.
  • A sudden transition from a quiet scene to the loud sound of a gunshot might make some jump.
  • There is a moderate amount of suspenseful music in the movie.
  • None.
  • 5 "f" words, 7 "s" words, 4 hells, 3 "ass" words, 1 damn, 1 crap, and 5 uses each of "God damn" and "Jesus," 4 uses of "Oh my God," and 2 uses each of "God," "Christ," and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • Richmond and Christy begin fooling around in her bedroom. They kiss and he then pushes her down to his crotch (out of the camera frame), we hear an unzipping sound and he has a pleasured look on his face. They then get into a little roughness that she likes at first, but later finds uncomfortable. He throws her onto a couch and then puts his face between her legs and she moans from his actions. From that point on, the scene turns from sexual to violent.
  • A medical examiner tells Seth that among other things, Christy's vagina was "inspected." A female detective then says, "Maybe he (the perp.) didn't remember he did it" (had sex, which he didn't).
  • There is some talk about Walter watching his wife (through a two-way mirror) have sex with other men. Walter says that it was her idea and that he didn't particularly like it.
  • None.
  • Luther and Kate have a strained relationship and she says, "You were never around for me. I have no plans to be around for you." She's upset about him not caring about her, but she later finds that he really did.
  • Trying to cover up crimes.
  • Whether anyone, including the President, has "absolute power" to get away with something like this.
  • As their encounter slowly turns from sexual to violent, Richmond slaps Christy and she slaps him back. He then throws her to the bed and later is on top of her on the floor. She's face down to the carpet and he yanks her head up by her hair and says, "I'll hurt you." She then manages to squeeze his testicles and he lets go of her. Moments later, however, he grabs her from behind and tears off part of her dress. She slugs him and he returns the punch to her face. He then begins to choke her, but she manages to crawl away and grabs a letter opener that she stabs into his arm. She then gets on top of him and raises the letter opener above her head, ready to stab him. Secret Service agents Burton and Collin then burst in and shoot her dead.
  • Burton tells Gloria, "Every time I see your face I want to rip your throat out."
  • Collin and a hit man hired by Walter prepare to shoot Luther, but their shots miss.
  • Collin and Burton ram and push Kate's car (with her in it) over a cliff. It tumbles down the embankment and she's hurt, but not killed.
  • A man prepares to kill Christy with a syringe, but he's done in by Luther using the same weapon.
  • It's reported that two White House people committed suicide after the truth's finally exposed.

  • Reviewed February 12, 1997

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