“Killing Reagan” (2016)
Running Time: 100 minutes
Director: Rod Lurie
Featuring: Tim Matheson, Cynthia Nixon, Joel Murray, Joe Chrest, Kyle S. More
Cop: “You don’t look like the guy that shot the President.”
Based on the book of the same name, by right wing Fox broadcaster Bill O’Reilly, this new film produced by the National Geographic Network follows the lead up to the 1981 assassination attempt by John Hinckley on the then new US President, Ronald Reagan.
This film version of the book that treats Ronald Reagan as the second coming is actually a very good if not biased account of what happened in 1981, and illustrates not only the disintegration of one mind, but the resolute strengthening of another, that being Hinkley and Reagan respectively. The other narrative point that occurs is that the audience is shown moments between the President and First Lady, Nancy Reagan, that are special, as well as illustrating the type of special relationship they had – if you did not realize the effect she had on the Presidency then this should help you start to understand it.
This is a film of many parts but you can tell it’s really a two hander between Tim Mathieson’s portrayal of Ronald Reagan and the incredible Cynthia Nixon as Nancy. These are two respected TV and Film actors that take these roles and inhabit them the way great artists can do without slipping into caricatures of their subjects.
Rod Lurie the director is no stranger to political films with such titles as “Deterrence” (1999), “The Contender” (2000) and TV show “Commander in Chief” (2005-2006). His best work is in the political arena and this shows here, he has a great understanding of balancing large talented casts and concentrating on what matters the people and the story.
However you feel about Reagan now, he was a divisive President then, although now he is looked on as a kindly throwback to what the Republican Party stood for, and he had no time with the extremists in his party then, and I can only guess that he is rolling over in his grave seeing what this cycles presidential race has been reduced to.
Whilst it is interesting to see the story of Hinckley going more insane as the film goes on and seeing his interaction with his parents is quite frightening. The real story to follow is Reagan trailing in the polls and eventually winning the Presidency, then entering the White House and struggling with his new job. Then seeing the influence of Nancy Reagan over husband Ronald and what was to become the legacy of that Presidency particularly in the second term.
I would recommend this film to anyone that enjoys political movies but one with something that had not happened in twenty-year and not since, albeit attempted assassination, of a US President. The performances are excellent and the direction assured.
If you enjoyed this then watch:
“All the Way” (2016)
“Game Change” (2012)