The Package

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THE PACKAGE —-quite good topical thriller has a wry twist of nostalgia. After several years of thaw, on Dec.3, 1989, George Bush the Elder and Mikhail Gorbachev held a conference in Malta and declared The Cold War to be ‘over’. That was three months after this smart, brisk actioner was released. Here we are, a sonic 17 years later and assorted neocon lunatics have relit the fuse, fires being stoked as I tap the keys.

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Career US Army Sergeant ‘Johnny Gallegher’ (Gene Hackman) becomes caught up in a intra-government plot designed to make sure peace does not break out between the US and the Soviets. Helped by an officer who also happens to be his ex-wife (Joanna Cassidy), and a savvy Chicago cop (Dennis Franz) they frantically try to sort out identities and clues while dodging attempted murders. The acting is solid, director Andrew Davis keeps the pace fast and paranoia runs deep on the level of The Parallax View and 3 Days Of The Condor, with a touch of The Manchurian Candidate.  Smart script is convincing, only getting somewhat too loose at the tail end, forgivable after how engaging the 108 minutes are in total.

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Hackman is excellent, has a great rapport with Cassidy, and they’re helped by  having bad guys like Tommy Lee Jones and John Heard. There’s a brief, welcome appearance from Pam Grier. Tense score from James Newton Howard. Done for $18,000,000, it didn’t find nearly enough of a crowd with a take of $10,700,000.

With Reni Santoni, Ron Dean, Checie Ross, Kevin Crowley and Ike Pappas.  Ah, Brink, we missed you. So glad you’ve come back.

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