Absolute Power (1997)



Corrupts Absolutely.

A career thief witnesses a horrific crime involving the U.S. President. Full summary »

Genre: Crime,Drama,Thriller

Absolute Power (1997)
Release Date: 14 February 1997 (USA)
Country: USA
Director: Clint Eastwood
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Gene Hackman
  • Ed Harris
  • Laura Linney
  • Scott Glenn
  • Dennis Haysbert
  • Judy Davis
  • E.G. Marshall
  • Melora Hardin
  • Kenneth Welsh
  • Penny Johnson
  • Richard Jenkins
  • Mark Margolis
  • Elaine Kagan
  • Alison Eastwood

33 Responses to Absolute Power (1997)

  1. dmiller2000
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    I thought I was watching a comedy at times. Lots of ridiculous scenes in this one…

    **Spoiler Alert**

    1. Why would the President start slapping and choking a woman that invited him into her bedroom and arranged to have sex with him? She’s ready and willing, yet he suddenly has an urge to kill her??!

    2. What prompted the Secret Service (SS) bozos to burst into the room when they did? The Prez and lover had been struggling and screaming for several minutes. The Chief of Staff later implied that slapping and yelling was common for the President’s encounters (imagine the President’s surprise in the middle of one of these past little S&M sessions to have his SS guys burst in with drawn weapons! haha!). Anyway, they would have either been aware of the Prez’s little fetish and left him alone, or, having no clue, would have burst into the room at the beginning of the scuffle.

    3. Trying to vacuum up the blood was hilarious! What was in all those HUGE black plastic garbage bags anyway??!!

    3. Before Luther (Clint Eastwood) goes out the window on the rope, the Chief of Staff and her 2 SS guys are on the ground looking up at a third floor window and they see the curtain ruffling in the window that Luther was looking out from. Then Luther goes out a window with his rope. It may not be the same exact window (there were at least 3 windows on the wall), but all the windows in the room are ON THE SAME WALL, so he would have landed on the ground right next to the Chief of Staff!

    4. It takes the 2 SS bozos 20 cut scenes of running up stairs to get up to the third floor room. They arrive as Luther rappels down to the ground and runs into the woods. The 2 SS guys run all the way back down, and out of the house, split up – one runs off and the other goes THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION to the car, then the one that went to the car meets up with the guy in the woods – who is JUST STANDING THERE waiting for him – then the chase through the woods begins. From the get go, the SS guys are only 20 yards away from Luther. What??! Perhaps Luther stopped for 20 minutes to tie his shoe or something? Maybe the fact that Luther is 67 and the SS guys are 10 to 25 years younger? It’s a laughably long chase through woods and open fields and woods again. I kept thinking "Shoot him! Shoot him! He’s right there!" I was laughing the whole scene! The icing on the cake was when the black SS agent said "I got the number" referring to the license plate as Luther drove away. Yeah, okay.

    5. The day after the theft/murder, Seth Frank (Ed Harris), the police investigator, walks into his office, proud as a peacock, holding Luther’s picture. He says something about a friend of his told him there are only 6 guys IN THE ENTIRE WORLD that could pull off that theft and only 1 of those 6 lives in D.C. – Luther! Is this how police investigation works??!! Damn! If we could just get those 6 guys, all the world’s cases would be solved. Even though Seth says Luther is a decorated war hero and he doesn’t go after war heroes, Seth brings Luther’s file in to work and declares him the prime suspect! Wow! Powerful stuff!

    6. Investigator Seth promises Luther’s daughter that Luther will be safe and she will "get him back" if she arranges a meeting with Luther. Why would Seth make such an impossible, unethical, stupid promise? He is TRYING TO CAPTURE Luther. Why would Luther’s daughter buy any of this? Seth is trying to CAPTURE HER FATHER! So anyway, she buys it. Seth then assembles a SWAT team to take Luther down. At that meeting, Luther and his daughter are shot at by 2 different snipers. Mass panic ensues. Now you would think she would be pretty upset with Seth, but the next scene shows Seth taking her to her house and flirting with her. I would think she would be slightly peeved that Seth nearly got her and her father killed a few minutes ago, but no… she invites him in for water and flirts back!. Sheesh! To make matters worse, Luther seems to approve of this flirting, as he has been hiding in her house during this tete-a-tete. And in the hospital, at the end, he encourages his daughter to get together with Seth. WHAT?!! "Honey, you know that guy that tried to capture me? The detective that said I am one of the top 6 criminals in the world? You know, the one that suckered you into that deathtrap? He would make a GREAT boyfriend! Why don’t you invite him over for dinner next week?"

    7. Seth takes Luther’s daughter to Luther’s house, walks up to the front door and reaches into the potted plant for the keys to the house. Luther’s daughter says she’s never been here before. How did Seth know where the keys were? The daughter comments that Luther always did that, but it’s AFTER Seth grabs the keys and she’s never been here and how would she know and… never mind.

    8. The daughter discovers that her father has been stalking her during her entire life, photographing her from afar, breaking into her house when she is not home, taking things out and bringing things in (stocking her refrigerator), etc. Somehow, she finds this endearing and emotionally touching??!! I guess she likes guys that screw her (see flirting plothole above).

    9. The snipers are both set up in rooms with windows (or a vehicle – I couldn’t tell exactly what the SS guy was in – some kind of space with metal grates for walls, but he was definitely at ground level with a sliding window. After preparing their rifles, they both open their windows and HOLD THE RIFLE END OUT OF THE WINDOW waving the ends around. I’m serious! Watch these 2 scenes again! Unbelievable! The place is a "high traffic, public place", SWARMING with cops to boot!

    10. The Prez sends the SS guys to find Luther’s daughter. I thought they would bring her in for questioning or something, but they simply follow her until she happens to park her car at the edge of some cliff (??!) next to some kind of church or something. Rather than arrest her and bring her in for questioning (or use as bait, or something to get to Luther), they simply push her over the cliff and drive away? (HUH?!!) What purpose does that possibly serve??? This bizarre plot point is completely unnecessary. I will admit that I was completely surprised when they pushed her over the cliff, but adding irrational, illogical things to a movie generally has that effect.

    11. After Luther finds out that the SS is taking over surveillance of his daughter, he drops the phone and speeds across the country from a phone booth in the middle of nowhere, to screeching his tires and blowing his horn repeatedly through traffic packed city streets(??) to a scene of him racing up a rural grassy hill at some church on a cliff (???), spinning his car to a stop, jumping out, walking over to the edge of the cliff, and then looking at his daughter’s car at the bottom. At no time before this, did he see his daughter’s car or talk to his daughter. He even drives right by the SS guys that pushed her over the cliff, seemingly oblivious. How did he know to find his daughter at the bottom of a cliff out in the country on the other side of the city???

    12. The scene where the SS guy goes to inject Luther’s daughter, he reaches for her arm to inject her in the crux of her elbow. All patients have IVs, so you can administer meds through the IV – no need to go poking them again. Also, the room has sounds of respirators and other monitors. The only thing Luther’s daughter has on her is a simple oxygen supply line. I don’t think so… okay… minor beefs… but read on:

    13. How does Luther know that the black SS guy isn’t a regular doctor coming to administer some scheduled meds for his daughter? He jumps the guy, even though the guy’s dressed like a doctor. Perhaps it is because of my previous plothole and Luther recognized this (ah! see?). Or perhaps it is the way the SS guy, dressed like a doctor, lurks around like a Navy Seal or something the whole time he is in the hospital. I was laughing again when the guy enters the room, pulls out the needle at the door, uncaps it, and then we watch, following from behind the needle that he grips in his hand like a knife, as he creeps towards the bed ready to STRIKE! Great comedic stuff! Even funnier was when Luther wheels him out to the dumpster! That’s where I put this movie.

  2. alcatab
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    Why was the Chief of Staff arrested?

  3. cdguerra-1
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    Who’s the hottie who plays the poor mistress? And has she done other movies? She’s cute!

  4. Swill_Merchant
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  5. jgroub
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    Wow, this was stupid. I enjoyed it the first time I saw it in the theater 10 years ago, but having just seen it, it’s got plotholes you could fly the Space Shuttle through.

    1. The question that Ed Harris and the black female detective discuss is well-taken. Why would he enter through the ground floor, defeating all the security systems, and then leave through the window? More to the point, why the hell would Clint Eastwood bring a harness and rope to go through the window? There is no reason for it!

    2. Putting that aside, the two secret service guys being around while the Pres is getting his jollies, of course, that’s fine. But the Chief of Staff? Are you kidding me? She’d be at home asleep in bed! Or does she like to hang out and watch the Pres doing his Eliot Spitzer impersonation? There would possibly be a "Body Man" (think of Dule Hill’s character in West Wing) or the "Guy with the Football" (carrying the nuclear launch codes) who would be closely following the Pres, but not the Chief of Staff.

    3. I don’t care how much you vacuum, the President’s blood stains from his arm ain’t gonna come out of that rug.

    4. What, did those two guys run up 12 flights of stairs to get back to the bedroom, while Clint had plenty of time to put on that harness, string the rope, and go out the window? That building wasn’t that tall!

    4. 67-year-old Clint Eastwood, with at least 50 pounds of stolen jewelry, coins, burglary equipment, and most importantly, humongous wads of cash strapped to his back, outrunning 43-year-old Dennis Haysbert? An old white guy outrunning a brother who, according to IMDb.com, "was a defensive end on his high school football team?" WTF?

    5. Secret service guys who just happen to have night vision goggles lying around in the truck?

    Now let’s cut through the BS and get to the most important one:

    6. When Clint’s having the main discussion with Laura Linney, he says, "Ed Harris will never believe a jewel thief over the Pres." Too bad Laura Linney didn’t say, "Yeah, you’re right. If only you had proof, something that would hold up in a court of law, like a semen-stained dress." And too bad Clint didn’t respond, "Oh, you mean like a letter opener with the dead woman’s fingerprints on it and stained with the President’s blood? But who, oh who would I ever give that to? Do I even know someone who’s in law enforcement who I could trust? Someone, say, who I saw graduate from law school? Someone who I saw win her first case? No, I don’t know anyone like that."

    I mean, give me a [email protected] break!

    I asked the doctor to take your picture so I can look at you from inside as well.

  6. led19
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    is it just me or did anyone else find that embarrassing?

    i was laughing and looking for a place to hide when he said that for the third time.

  7. sunshinde
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    When Client was sitting in the vault, he has a clear view of the two people outside. Woudl a guy as smart as the one Clint was playing not recognize the president of the united states?

  8. giynn
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    God, the director must’ve been feeling experimental. What a surreal scene. The awkwardness and everyone watching them dance. Why not just talk with her privately? Suuuurreal.

  9. miles-29
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    The one thing that had us laughing out loud while watching this was Clint Eastwood’s pathetic attempts at disguising himself, his character his supposed to be a master of disguise. It’s not just that he’s so famous, even if you didn’t know him none of his disguises were at all effective! A hat and sunglasses, an obviously fake moustache… it’s almost like the props/make-up department was afraid of actually disguising him.

  10. scarf1
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    Good movie, but a much better book. I found it so phoney, when Clint was preparing to escape out of the bedroom window, that it seemed to take the 2 agents FOREVER to run up the stairs after him – how many floors did that house contain ?!

  11. emailtom
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    1. When the letter opener is dropped when the purse is picked up as everyone leaves the bedroom nobody notices as it falls under a bench or something at the foot of the bed. When the Secret Service guys run back up to get the opener and catch Luther the one agent looks under the bench right away and says " Oh s–t. How did he know that is where it fell?

    2. Luther’s daughter arranges to meet her dad and the cops are setting a trap for him while one SS agent and Sullivan’s hit man are also there to take him out. I know the Secret Service had Luther’s daughter’s phone tapped, but how in the world did Sullivan’s hitman know about the meeting. Was he also tapping someones phone or office? I must have missed something. Please explain.

  12. Mr_McLaurel
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    Absolute Power is an interesting but flawed Clinton-era (oh, I miss the days when you could casually accuse the President of the United States of cold-blooded murder and manipulation without making a federal case out of it) political thriller. It has some good scenes, without a doubt, but there’s one scene that sticks out as being truly great and unique: the ballroom scene with President Gene Hackman and his Chief of Staff. The (female) Chief comes in looking just this side of the Wicked Witch of the West, and she’s wearing, unbeknown to her, a crucial piece of evidence in the President’s murder case. What follows, as these two characters piece together what’s happening, is a positively grotesque scene of these two monsters dancing for the benefit of the other people in the room and keeping their inevitable implosion a secret. An incredible scene! Too bad the rest of the movie isn’t as good.

    What’s the Spanish for drunken bum?

  13. dirtymac-1
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    I didn’t get that part where Sullivan goes into Pres. Richmond’s office and after that

    I shot the sheriff and the goddamn deputy

  14. zackattack-1
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    Mine is:

    "every time i see your face, i wanna rip your throat out"

    So well delivered and thought up.

  15. glendevan
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    I couldn’t believe it. This from the man who won Oscars for All The Presidents Men and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid?? Presidents Men is one of the greatest screen adapatations of a book. Ever. Hard to believe he could write this kind of second-rate arse dribble. The whole thing is so shoddy, so shot full of story holes as to be laughable.

    Clearly slumming it here. For a nice big fat paycheck, no doubt. C’mon Bill, you’re better than that!

  16. SofaKingFresh
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    Ed Harris questions the old rich man about why there was a chair in the diamond vault. The old rich man replies he is no longer able to please his woman. What does that have to do with the chair? I don’t understand.

  17. fanaticita
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    I thought the relationship between Eastwood and Laura Linney (playing his daugher) was particularly moving.

    SPOILERS ***************

    He had been a rotten dad, but was part of her life whether she realized it or not, and it’s hinted at that she did suspect he was around. Then it became aparent that he was very much a part of her life but on the periphery -sort of like a ghost, showing up at important events in here life. His shady past kept him in the shadows. After she is nearly killed, he becomes totally devoted to her wellbeing. The scene in the hospital where he sits down and sketches her while she is laying in bed. . beautiful, he’s there to stay. Gotta love Eastwood. He knows how to direct!

  18. darrendebari
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    Every time I watch this movie the highlight for me is the scene between Clint and Ed Harris. Their little cat and mouse is not only fun to watch but they both genuinely seem to be enjoying the scene. Eastwood’s line about being the star of his AARP meetings is priceless as are Ed Harris’s reactions. They are both putting each other on and it’s great fun to watch from two actors I greatly admire.

    Creativity is the ultimate expression of the human being

  19. NiceGuyTommy
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    The idea would have been good for 24… instead of terrorism from outside the presidency, the presidency itself is the terror. Would be fitting. I mean, I think the makers of 24 saw this anyway, they cast two of the actors in their lovely little programme.

    "You’re a godsend, a saviour"

    "No, I’m a postman"

  20. CoolMoviesFan
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    I just recently saw this movie on tv after reading some of the reviews here and on other sites I noticed that a lot of people mentioned that the murder victem was raped but from what I saw in the movie it looked like he was TRYING to rape her but never suceeded because she kept fighting back. So was she raped or not? Am I missing something? Did they edit the rape out because it was on tv or was she actually raped in the book and they just didn’t show it in the movie? I’m confused!

  21. avory1967
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    When Luther went to meet his daughter at the outdoor cafe where the cops were going to nab him, I can understand why the Secret Service guy was there to shoot him (after all, they had the cops’ phones bugged). But how in the world did Sullivan’s hired gun know that Luther was going to be there? I can’t figure this out at all. There doesn’t seem to be any way he could have had that knowledge given what we see in the film. Could some explanation for this have ended up on the cutting room floor?

    If anyone has any clue on this, I’d sure like to know, because it appears to defy explanation to me. Thanks!

  22. dawnmuse79
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    Screenwriter Goldman took out Baldacci’s main character. Instead he made the thief the protagonist. No wonder this movie made no sense. I’m surprised Goldman would do that and I’m equally surprised Baldacci would agree to that. . . but I suppose if you pay someone enough money, they’ll liable to agree to anything.

  23. screamystu
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    anyone notice how this movie is very similar to "No Way Out" with Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman, playing a Defense Secretary who accidentally kills his mistress and Costner witnesses it?

  24. bradtroy136
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    why did they overact so badly to this. She didnt know there was someone up there until she saw the curtain move. Even so, they didnt know anyone was up there so why would they run up there

  25. rabino
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    I was seeing this film last night and when it ended, the final song sounded familiar. I got the impression that it is the same ending song used in Gran Torino but without the lyrics.

    Can anybody confirm this for me?



  26. virg-serre
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    Hello everyone, I’m doing my thesis on how Hollywood sees the American Presidency, and I was wondering how you thought this movie was relevent in the way it undermines the image of the President?

    All comments would be greatly appreciated, thank you!!

  27. jaisonline
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    **** SPOILERS ***************

    **** SPOILERS ***************

    I just finished reading the book last night. I saw the movie about 3 years ago and I don’t remember being impressed by it.

    Anyway, the movie VERY LOOSELY follows the book.

    Here are some plot-lines from the book that’s not in the movie (to my knowledge- I’ll updated this post after I watch the movie again)

    1. Eastwood character, Luther is killed while being escorted into court. The first attempt on his life was setup by Sullivan and the fatel killing by Burton.

    2. The Jack Graham character is not included in the movie. He’s a corp. lawyer (former public defender) who dated Kate Whitney and was close friends w/ Luther. His largest clients were Sullivan and his wife’s fiance’s father. Seth Frank befriends him.

    3. Walter Sullivan figures out Pres. Allen Richmond killed his wife and then Richmond has him killed by Burton. Sullivan tells Richmond that only he knew his wife stayed home from the trip because she claimed being sick. However, Richmond speaks of her illness during a press conference.

    4. Russell (Chief of Staff) tried to secretly blackmail Richmond after the Christy Sullivan killing by keeping the letter opener w/ his and Sullivan’s blood on it. She forgets it and Luther keeps it. BTW, while Richmond is still passed out on the bed, Russell fullfills a fantasy and has sex w/ him. She also has a relationship w/ Collin.

    5. In the ending, Graham (and Frank) secretly record an attempt on his life by Collin and Burton at a motel. The recording also includes discussions about the Richmond killing and cover-up. This recording is the sole evidence used to prosecute Richmond and he’s given the death penalty. Russell and Collin turn into witnesses against Richmond. Burton commits suicide at his house.

  28. gingercatman
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    this movie is 1996. check the end credits

  29. SimplyRavishing1
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    For any of you people out there that watch 24, I know you obviously know that Dennis Haysbert was the SS agent. Well, something I just noticed after watching this movie again was that the black detective at the beginning of the crime scene, Penny Johnson, is the woman who later went on to star as the First Lady Sherry Palmer, President Palmer’s wife on 24 during the earlier seasons. Interesting coincidence.

  30. dazfiddy
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    Is this a coincidence but Ed Harris and Scott Glen have acted in three films together.They both starred in The Right Stuff,Harris playing John Glen and Glen playing Alan Shepherd.They play leading roles in Absolute Power, and they both star in Buffalo Soldiers. In that film, Harris plays the dimwit base commander,while Glen is the hard ass sargeant out to stop Joaquin Phoenix’s wheeler dealer.

  31. u-s--lady
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    The hospital were Eastwood´s daughter is after her accident looks like the one from "E.R.".

    Was it the same set?

  32. rabksaj
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    when luther says to the old man sulivan you almost killed me in the limo confuses me cause the only persons i saw who tried to kill luther were the secret service men from the building with their sniper rifles.

  33. CrazyDog375
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    Like, what was the Chief of Staff doing at Jan Levinson-Gould’s house? And if the Chief of Staff got arrested at the end, wouldn’t that make the news? And Scott Glenn killing himself? But when they’re interviewing…Sullivan(?), no one knows *why* he did it? And Sullivan "tried" to stop him? "Oh, wait, Alan, don’t…damn, he did…"? Other stuff, too, but it’s not even worth remembering.

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