Lily Raines:What makes you think he'll call again?
Frank Horrigan:Oh, he'll call again. He's got, uh, "panache."
Horrigan:Yeah, it means flamboyance.
Raines:Mm, I know what it means.
Horrigan:Really? I had to look it up.
In the Line of Fire is a 1993 Psychological Thriller about a Secret Service agent named Frank Horrigan, played by Clint Eastwood, trying to stop a potential assassin (John Malkovich) who has contacted him, giving him advance notice that he plans to kill the President of the United States. So begins a cat-and-mouse chase as the assassin drops hints to taunt and torment Horrigan, whose history (on detail at the time of the Kennedy assassination) he knows perfectly well. The advertising for the movie made explicit reference to the fact that it was released 30 years after the Kennedy assassination. Also stars Rene Russo as Horrigan's partner.Notable for being Eastwood's last role in which he wasn't also directing (until 2012's Trouble with the Curve). Also notable for the extensive consultation done with the Secret Service in order to achieve realism — this had not been done before in Hollywood.
Contains examples of:
And This Is for...: Leary's murder of Al becomes yet another reason why Horrigan is so determined to catch him.
Counterfeit Cash: What Frank is investigating in the beginning. It's also Truth in Television since before they became known for protecting the President and government officials, the Secret Service was originally established as a bureau of the Treasury that investigated money counterfeiting (which they still do today).
Creepy Monotone: Leary borders on one. But of course, he is being played by John Malkovich.
Don't Make Me Destroy You: Leary has no real intention to harm Frank, even though he clearly enjoys toying with him. He warns Frank not to get "too" close though, or he'll have to kill him.
Dress Hits Floor: Gracefully subverted. When Frank and Lily end in the room together the floor is hit with handcuffs, pistols, holsters, badges etc. Complete with rather loud thumps. When she has to leave abruptly, he looks around in frustration and mutters, "Now I have to put all that shit back on again."
He Who Fights Monsters: Leary feels that he was turned into one by the CIA when they abandoned and nearly killed him when he became a liability.
Hope Spot: In the split second that Al has his gun trained on Leary. You can almost see Al finally shaking off whatever anxiety he had about being a good agent as he realizes that he's caught the guy, but the distraction is just long enough for Leary to draw his own gun and shoot him
If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: The counterfeiters at the start of the film ask the undercover Frank to shoot his partner, who they know to be a Secret Service agent, to prove that he's not one too. Frank goes through with it - and it turns out the gun was empty (which he'd suspected based on how heavy it was).
IKEA Weaponry: Leary's assassination weapon is composed of several pieces of composite, which he assembles after getting them past the security checkpoint. The only metal components are the bullets and the springs; the former are hidden in a rabbit's foot keychain and the latter in a pen, enabling him to get them past the metal detector by putting them in the key tray.
It's Personal: Why Frank wants to be part of the President's protective detail, and why his bosses are initially reluctant to let him do so.
Well, to be fair, they're also reluctant because he's much, much older than is really optimal for such a physically demanding assignment.
There's also his anger over Al's death.
Kick the Dog: Leary kills Frank's nice-guy partner, though he's quick to justify it as self-defense. In-universe too, as Al finally shakes off the confidence issues that have plagued him throughout the film, only to get killed two seconds later.
Metal Detector Checkpoint: To get a gun past a metal detector, Leary makes a plastic gun and carries the bullets in his key chain.
Multitasked Conversation: At the climax, Frank hears over his hidden earpiece that the snipers can't get a clear shot on Leary, who has him on the ground at gunpoint. Frank challenges Leary to shoot, he doesn't care, and Leary doesn't catch on until Frank adds, "One more thing: Aim high."
No Name Given: the President of the United States is only referred to as "the President" or by his Secret Service-given codename "Traveler". The First Lady is also unnamed.
No Party Given: Never specified. The only hint is that several people at one of the rallies are carrying pro-choice posters, while at a later event the Secret Service have to find an alternate route because their first choice of route is blocked by pro-life demonstrators, suggesting he is a Democrat.
Not So Different: Invoked several times by Leary in his conversations with Frank, but ultimately subverted. As far as Frank's concerned, he was just doing his job all along, and when he gets home he doesn't even bother to wait around and listen to Leary's post-mortem answerphone message, walking out the door with Lily even as Leary begins talking about how he's doomed to die alone.
Oh, Crap: Leary's reaction when the bank clerk is from Minneapolis, where he is pretending to be from, and asks him where he went to high school. Though he plays it relatively cool and probably would have avoided suspicion, the mere thought that he might have made an impression on her as a phony makes him decide to kill her.
Properly Paranoid: Frank is right about the President being targeted, but he comes off as delusional to his colleagues.
Retirony: First, Al mentions his wife and child in his first scene. Then, after a harrowing shoot-out, he wonders if he has what is takes to be an agent (it seems he's a rookie). If this isn't a tip-off that the poor guy's gonna die, his teary-eyed decision to resign (which Frank talks him out of) should clinch it.
Taking the Bullet: Frank. Leary suggests that wearing a bulletproof vest was kind of cheating.
There Are No Therapists: Averted. When Al announces his intention to quit as he can't deal with the stress of the job, Frank tells him that the agency has counseling to help agents deal with this. Al mentions that he's been to the counselors, but it hasn't helped.
Took a Level in Badass: He's already pretty Badass, but after nearly collapsing from heat stroke while running alongside the Presidential limo, Frank gets himself into such good shape that he's able to scale a building and run across rooftops with as much ease as the much younger Al.
Villain Ball: Leary's non-sequitur that "sometime people die just because they're from Minneapolis" ends up being critical information.
Villains Never Lie: Leary claims that he will never ever lie to Frank, and for the most part he doesn't.
Who Shot JFK?: Averted. The details of the assassination are not called into question. Near the end of the film, Frank expresses his contempt for all of the drunken armchair theorists who've invented conspiracy theories about it. Even Leary, about as paranoid and anti-government as you can get, never suggests that he thinks Oswald wasn't a lone gunman.