In the Line of Fire Movie Poster Image

In the Line of Fire



Sturdy but violent Clint Eastwood assassination thriller.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 1993
  • Running Time: 127 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Message of duty and honor in Frank's drive to protect the Chief Executive, regardless of personal bitterness about unfairness on and off the job.

Positive role models

Frank is an upstanding, professional, punctual lawman who refuses to let Leary's taunts -- and his own superiors' enmity -- turn him against the U.S. government. On the negative side, he is described as a divorced alcoholic (apparently “in recovery”) and a sexist, whose flirtations with a female agent are decidedly old-school. Abovementioned female co-worker speaks to women integrated into the Secret Service (though this one doesn't do much besides fall in love with Frank). African Americans are also represented on the team.


Shootings (or threats of shootings) at close range, with blood, fatalities. Two characters brutally beaten/strangled to death; another falls from a lethal altitude.


Frank and his leading lady shed clothing (just out of frame) before an (interrupted) bedroom tussle; it's mainly a gag shot to disclose how much weaponry they carry. The point is made that their relationship has become intimate. Brief shot of another scantily clad couple surprised on the couch in a police raid.


Frequent swearing including "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "bastard," "damnit."


Magazines such as Time and Esquire on display. Frank likes jazz recordings, especially Miles Davis.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Frank is said to have a drinking problem but nothing is really shown.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that violence in this actioner includes innocent characters disturbingly murdered (shootings, bludgeonings, strangulation) just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is a walk-through of how one might get close to a U.S. president for killing purposes. Swearing is frequent and includes "f--k" and "s--t." The hero (declared to be a divorced alcoholic) and the heroine have sex, though nothing is really shown. The bad guy hints at Washington D.C.'s distrustful secret side, of training hit-men, and carrying out assassinations. Somehow there is no mention of particular political parties, issues, or leanings, even with the election-year backdrop.

What's the story?

Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran Secret Service agent who, early in his career, was in Dallas the day John F. Kennedy died and has been haunted by the idea that he could have saved the president's life. Now Frank starts getting calls from Mitch Leary (John Malkovich), a crafty, elusive psychopath obsessed with the idea of killing the current (unnamed) U.S. president in an act of kamikaze revenge against the government. Mitch considers Frank to be something of a kindred spirit, even a “friend,” and he toys with the increasingly frustrated agent while stalking the presidential re-election campaign.

Is it any good?


A lot here is expected action-movie cliche. You have the novice-cop partner who's as obviously doomed as those Star Trek guys in red shirts; a “liberated” lady (Rene Russo) who clashes with Frank intially but is destined to be his lover; snotty superiors who don't listen to Frank's warnings. The plot does seem to go on a bit long, leaving no cliffhangers un-hung.

But the formula works like gangbusters, thanks to strong casting and a script that uses Eastwood's advancing age and old-school attitudes to good advantage. It's not just a shoot-'em-up but a compelling intellectual match between hero and villain; Mitch, a jaded ex-soldier who doesn't believe in anything anymore, up against the stern, duty-bound Frank, whom he truly admires as an “honorable” man and can't see why Frank puts his life on the line for decades for those unworthy of him.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the various killers and would-be killers who have targeted U.S. presidents and their often-bizarre motivations (such as impressing Jodie Foster).

  • Does this movie make Secret Service work look like a desirable career? Why or why not?

  • Talk about the extraordinary career of Clint Eastwood. Once considered a squinty, limited actor best for all those cop-gunslinger roles, Eastwood has since become a small-town mayor, a musician-composer, and a revered, world-class director. Check out Eastwood's piano stylings in Martin Scorsese's musical docuseries The Blues.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 9, 1993
DVD/Streaming release date:February 27, 2001
Cast:Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo
Director:Wolfgang Petersen
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:127 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence and language

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Teen, 15 years old Written byL.Ferguson December 8, 2011

good movie got it on dvd

I thought this was an interesting movie with a good story. It had a couple of violent moments an quite a lot of swearing
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byFILMCRITIC500 August 21, 2013

suspenseful thriller has mild violence but strong language

this gripping, tense, and well acted thriller isn't the kind of action movie you would see. it is rather a thriller/suspense movie that excels in holding the tension high. but some of the violence, albeit brief, maybe to bloody for younger kids. the violence is very mild, but sometimes gets brutal. people are shot, have their necks snapped, nearly suffocated, beaten, and one falls from a tall building. there is also some very strong language, with uses of f**k, motherf**ker, s**t, god**n, b***h.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written by03.154 December 28, 2014

Great, over the top, cheesy (in all the right ways) 90's action movie. Lots of fun.

Might be a bit violent for younger viewers but take away the tomato sauce blood and its fine. There may also be a couple of hints at other slightly inappropriate things apart from violence but younger viewers probably won't understand it anyway. Other than that its just the language that parents need to look out for. This is a fun movie for everyone.


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