As a film fan who is sometimes more excited about the performers in a film than the film itself, I have always been drawn to movies where we get the teaming up of two or more personal favorites. So when this film hit the theaters back in ’89, I was in line opening night.
Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones have to be two of the best actors we’ve seen since the collapse of the studio system. If you’ve been a visitor here before you know I have been a big Hackman supporter and miss him from the screen since his retirement in 2004. As for Jones, I have been a follower since seeing him turn up in flicks while renting films in the early days of the VHS rentals. He was so noticeable co-starring in films like Rolling Thunder and then slowly getting leads in Coal Miners Daughter and other early eighties films.
For this film from director Andrew Davis we have a a political thriller that involves the two world leaders in nuclear weapons agreeing to disarmament. Not a popular stance in all military circles. Hackman stars as a gruff platoon leader who gets in the way of shady officer John Heard. He is quickly ordered to take military prisoner Tommy Lee Jones back to the United States from their current location in East Berlin. While making the trip back Jones escapes leaving Gene trying to find him and report in. Problems begin when Jones isn’t who he is supposed to be and Hackman is suspected of murdering the supposed wife of the soldier he was transporting back. The plot moves along nicely from here with Gene teaming up with ex-wife and superior officer Joanna Cassidy to find out just who Jones is and what is he up to. Not to mention who is pulling the strings that make Jones jump.
With a hint of the Kennedy-Oswald scenario, Gene and Joanna are helped along by the always welcome Pam Grier as a military officer not to mention scene stealer Dennis Franz as an old friend of Hackman’s on the Chicago Police force. Hackman has plenty of opportunity to lay into a few officers and gets nastier the deeper he gets in. Jones character hams it up a notch as the man Hackman is out to get. Gene is a such a dominating force on screen when he’s given a role that requires him to play tough.
Director Davis would go on to work again with Jones in both Under Siege and his Oscar winning role in The Fugitive. Although this film wasn’t the box office success of the other two it should not be avoided if given the chance to see it. So go out and grab this Package if you can.
Haven’t seen this in years, Mike. At the time, Hackman could do no wrong on screen, making even dull movies watchable by his presence alone. Jones was yet to fully reach his peak I feel but the same could be said of him. I don’t recall a lot about this one beyond the two stars and the basic premise so I’ll have to make an effort to revisit it.
Right on about Jones, he seemed to take a step backwards in the late eighties after being on the rise earlier. He made some TV movies of the week which were not in keeping with a major star. On that note he did a great job in a tele film called The Executioners Song I haven’t seen in years. I have it in the pile here and should review it.
He also made The Dead Can’t Lie aka Gotham which I quite like.
I remember that being mysterious.Gothic in tone.
Yes, kind of hard-boiled supernatural.
adding more movies to my want list from this post & thread of comments.. 🙂 is it just me nostalgic from growing up in that era or was the 80s really a cool movie time? It seems like even the biggest budget stuff had a lot more personality than now, even the failures were fun, and lots of the action movies were entertaining.
I think nostalgic is my middle name! It’s fun to look back at films from our yute.