Sunday, July 16, 2006

Review – The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Here’s an oddity: a movie about an assassination attempt that didn’t succeed. In 1974 a ne’er-do-well salesman named Sam Byck tried to kill Richard Nixon by (unsuccessfully) hijacking an airplane and plowing it into the White House. In the wake of September 11, the plot obviously takes on an immediacy it otherwise wouldn’t have had. But beyond that, all we get from this is yet another lone nut obsessed with violence against the rich and powerful. Sean Penn plays Byck (spelled “Bicke” in the movie) as a bizarre combination of Travis Bickle and Rain Man, which fits the story line but generally makes the lead character neither sympathetic nor compelling. Of course the problems here aren’t all Penn’s doing. The production would have been helped considerably by more emphasis on the protagonist’s mental illness, his delusions and his crimes. Instead the stress is mostly on his business and relationship woes. Mildly amusing

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