It's a normal average day as security prepares for the appearance of the President at a sporting event. All seems routine;
the site is secured, crowds held at a distance. Then from amongst the press comes a man with a newscamera -- who suddenly
drops the camera to pull a gun and open fire. The Secret Service jumps into action, tries to block the gunman, but it's too
late. The President is already down and later dies in the operating room.
Kate Crawford (Angie Harmon), a reporter who is investigating the assassin meets up with Shakey, a street person (David Selby)
at the makeshift memorial at the assassination site. He takes her to where the assassin lived, right next to the van he calls
home. When the reporter returns, it's to find that Shakey has died in a mysterious fire.
Shakey's death then other facts that keep turning up convince the reporter that there is a conspiracy. She tracks down Alex
Thomas (Cuba Gooding) the Secret Service agent who was shot during the assassination, feeling that he is the only one who
can't be involved with this conspiracy.
Thomas, however, at first appearance does not seem able to be much help. On required leave after the shooting, he is spending
his time wallowing in drink and guilt, replaying the news tapes of the event over and over. (Personally I feel that this
kind of guilt was put across much better by Clint Eastwood in In the Line of Fire.)
Unfortunately, from here on in the movie becomes incredibly predictable, as the two join forces due to an attempt on their
lives, and each new lead ends up dead. There is predictable interference from Thomas's bosses, and a far reaching government
conspiracy seems to be uncovered. I say seems to be because the ending and motivations for the assassination are very muddled
by the end of the film, which might be just a case of VERY bad editing.
It's a shame really, that with a cast like Cuba Gooding, James Woods, Jack Scalia, Anne Archer and Angie Harmon, this movie
couldn't have been better. It's hard to place blame, given the incredibly weak and derivative script, but most of the characters
seemed one-dimensional. That's always a problem to some extent with action movies, but I'm disappointed that a cast of this
caliber could have done a better job of working around that weakness. I've seen all of them in many things before, but in
this movie they all just seemed to be playing their stock character, with no real depth of characterization -- or way to differentiate
from other similar characters they've played before.
Selby's character Shakey -- or, as he introduces himself "Arthur Fuller" -- was the only character we see with any INTERESTING
character quirks. Selby seems to have done a great job with what is essentially a very minor character. The first impression
you get of Shakey is that of an elderly hippie who had had at least one VERY bad trip -- and never made it all the way back.
Shakey, for whatever reasons (the script implies drink, thus the character's tremors, but has the character claim he doesn't
drink) is not quite connected to reality in many ways, though he can reason and understand. Selby handled the balancing act
of the now he's lucid now he's not behavior very well. His body language is very defensive as he slumps over, eyes squinting
mistrustfully, expecting the worst from any encounter, yet on another level the character has a childlike want for attention
Shakey is scruffy, but not bedraggled (and speaking as a New Yorker who used to work near Times Square, he has GOT to be the
CLEANEST looking street person I've EVER seen.) and is pretty decently dressed, down to a pair of bright red high top sneakers
which he enjoys showing off. Selby once again does a character voice for this role, a raspy voice like that of a long time
smoker or someone with lung damage, and his accent is somewhat different, having more of a southern tinge to it than usual.
But it's the characterization that stands out, and makes you wish that this character had been around a bit longer to liven
up the proceedings.
In short, unless you are really into conspiracy theory movies, you will find this one lacking. Selby's character appears
near the beginning of the movie, so it's possible - and highly recommended -- for one to rent this for his performance, then
forget about watching the rest of the movie.