Murder at 1600

1997 · Warner Bros.
Murder at 1600 — Movie Review by Karthik
7 out of 10
Directing Credits
Dwight H. Little
Writing Credits
Written by Wayne Beach & David Hodgin
Wesley Snipes, Diane Lane, Dennis Miller, Daniel Benzali, Alan Alda, Ronny Cox, Tate Donovan

The Review

The very beginning of this movie serves as an introduction to the hero, a homicide detective called Harlan Regis (Wesley Snipes).  This scene is a clichéd one, in which Regis disarms a man with a gun who might shoot himself or cause harm to others.  We also get to meet Regis's partner, played by Dennis Miller.

Anyway the actual story begins a little bit later, when the body of a young woman, Carla Towne, is discovered in the White House (the titular 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue).  Soon, police are all over the scene, and Regis is also called in.  From the beginning of his investigation, it's obvious something is being covered up.  The White House in-charge of Security, Nicholas Spikings (Daniel Benzali) is a tough man, who refuses to divulge any information - claiming that it is classified.  The National Defence Secretary (Alan Alda) is more sympathetic though, and soon Regis is assigned an "official" informant, Agent Nina Chance (Diane Lane), who again is only supposed to give him information that the White House wants him to have.

But Regis is determined to find out the truth, and soon, Agent Chance also teams up with him to actually uncover what is going on.  Is the White House covering up something that might damage the President's reputation (was he having an affair with Carla)?  Or was the murder committed by someone within the White House?  This is also not a very good time for the President, Jack Neil (Ronny Cox), because he is in the middle of dealing with a hostage situation - American soldiers being held captive in North Korea.  Furthermore, his son, Kyle (Tate Donovan) is also a suspect in the case.  A number of plot threads are picked up and explored before the mystery reaches it's conclusion.  Of course, Regis and Nina are in danger from Secret Service agents and senior White House officials, whose motives aren't always clear.

Murder at 1600 is an interesting mystery for a major part of it's running time.  At times it also becomes an action movie, complete with chases, shootings and a requisite car explosion.  I did like the way the movie maintained a sort of ambiguity about the murder in the beginning, and proceeded to slowly solve the mystery.  The chase/shootout parts of the movie are also well filmed, with a suitable music score (Christopher Young) to back them up.  On the whole, this is an entertaining movie.

But the main criticism I have of this movie is that many things were never really convincing.  First of all, I seriously doubt that real secret service agents would go around in helicopters blowing things up while trying to capture two people, who are "getting too close to the truth" (maybe I'm wrong?).  The final resolution of the story (and the motive of the guilty party) also seemed very improbable to me.

Acting wise, I thought everyone did a good job although none of the characters were anything special to me (Wesley Snipes's role is that of the standard detective/cop trying to uncover a mystery, Diane Lane's role is the person on the inside who risks her job to help the good guy, Dennis Miller is the cop's good friend/partner... the movie even includes the standard angry police captain who shouts at the good cop because of the trouble he seems to cause).  I had a bit of a problem accepting Ronny Cox as the US President, probably because of his earlier, much more memorable (to me) roles as the megalomaniacal "Dick Jones" in RoboCop or "Vilos Cohaagen" in Total Recall.

Also, despite the action scenes being well handled, there was nothing really memorable.  This is I think understandable, because in a serious murder investigation-type movie, big action scenes would have been more out of place than the current ones seem.

Criticisms aside though, I did like the movie, and I do think it is worth watching.

More Details

Running Time: 110 minutes | Country: US | Genre: Mystery/Action

Ratings Info

I rate all movies or game add-ons on a scale of 1 to 10 points.  1 is the lowest score, 6 is barely above average, 8 is good, and 10 is excellent (this score doesn't indicate something that is perfect in every way — it just means that I enjoyed it a lot).  You'll find that I tend to give ratings of 8 and above often (that's only because I enjoy whatever I'm reviewing!).  Reviews are updated as felt necessary.  Of course, everything said in these reviews is my humble opinion only.
Review Date 21 May 03
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The Author

Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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