‘In the Line of Fire’ 4K Ultra HD review

Wolfgang Petersen’s 1993 political action thriller finally debuts on ultra-high definition packed with vintage extras in In the Line of Fire (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated R, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 129 minutes, $24.99).

The redemption story offers guilt-ridden Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) unable to prevent the death of President John F. Kennedy.

Now nearing retirement, he is called back to protective detail to prevent an assassin (John Malkovich) from killing the current president, playing out in an entertaining, nail-biting and cinematic cat-and-mouse game.

A charmingly gravely and grouchy Mr. Eastwood is in vintage form while the maniacal Mr. Malkovich plays his stalking foil to the extreme.

It is by far one of Mr. Eastwood’s best and most textured performances and supplemented by a cast that, besides Mr. Malkovich, also includes Rene Russo as romantic interest and fellow agent Lilly Raines and Dylan McDermott as partner Al D’Andrea.

Also, pay attention for pop culture stars including “Saw” killer Tobin Bell as a counterfeiter, “Fraser” dad John Mahoney as a Secret Service director, “Veep” political strategist Gary Cole as an agent, and former Sen. Fred Thompson as the president’s chief of staff.

4K in action: Sony sets a high standard for the release, remastered from the original camera negative, and it delivers.

Examples include the opening panoramic views of the nation’s capital including the National Mall and White House — crisp images detailed and viewed under sharp blue skies.

Frank and Lilly sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of the reflecting pool looking toward the Washington Memorial at sunset or Frank on the rooftop with the bright white Capitol dome behind him show the visual perfection from the high dynamic range tweaks.

The consistency shines throughout. Frank crossing a D.C. street in a trench coat at night features immaculate clarity and vivid color so real that a viewer may feel he is watching him from the other street corner.

Best extras: Viewers get all of the bonus content from the 2008 Blu-ray release on the 4K disc led by an optional commentary track by the director.

Mr. Petersen is joined by the producer of the 2001 DVD special edition J.M. Kenny who occasionally asks questions but mainly keeps him company as the director offers a methodical and nonstop look at his masterpiece.

As expected, he offers a wealth of information covering casting, working with Mr. Eastwood (a pure pleasure), the access and help given to the crew by the Secret Service, researching the project, humor on the set, the visual effects and details tied to the production design.

Next, a 20-minute promotional piece originally on Showtime back in 1993 offers a behind-the-scenes look at the movie and peek at the functions of the Secret Service. It’s narrated by technical adviser Bob Snow, and includes interviews with cast and crew and multiple agents, even briefly examining assassinations and attempted assassination of presidents.

Another 20-minute featurette, from 2001, offers a look at the movie and Secret Service with Mr. Snow back in sit-down talks that also include deputy director of the Secret Service Kevin Foley, assistant director Larry Cockell and field agent Rebecca Ediger.

Finally worth a look is a too-brief look, only five minutes, at the various technologies employed by the Secret Service as explored by agent Lorelei W. Pagano used to counter counterfeiters including water marks, security threads and color-shifting ink.

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