NGC's Killing Kennedy website offers a fully interactive companion documentary that followed the film's compelling narrative of Kennedy and Oswald on a collision course. Using 2.5D Parallax... See full summary »
Real-life First Lady Nancy Reagan died during the production of his film and the real-life John Hinckley was released from prison. These updates were added post-production in the on-screen text at the end. See more »
When the Hinckleys are at their table eating, we see a Pepsi bottle with a 21st-century logo. It's quite different from the one used in 1981. See more »
A Bit Biased, But With Superb Performances And A Good Reflection On Both Reagan and Hinckley
This movie has an obvious bias, and portrays Ronald Reagan in a very favourable light. That shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. It's based on a book by Bill O'Reilly, who's well known as a conservative commentator who - just because of those ideological leanings - would be expected to be sympathetic to Reagan. I don't have too much of a position on Reagan. I'm not an American and never had to make a decision on whether or not to vote for him. There were probably a lot of policies I would have disagreed with, but I would say that by Reagan's own standards he was probably a successful president. He did restore a certain sense of greatness to the United States after the corruption of Watergate, the debacle of Vietnam, and the advances of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And, of course, while it didn't happen until a few years after he left office, he laid the groundwork for the end of the Cold War by engaging in an arms race with the Soviet Union that the Soviet economy couldn't keep up with. So while I may not be entirely in agreement, I can understand those like O'Reilly who would have a pro-Reagan bias, and it didn't detract from this movie in any way. In the context of this movie, I thought Reagan came across as in control and strong.
On March 30, 1981 - a little over two months after taking office, Reagan was shot by a would be assassin named John Hinckley. Hinckley had no political agenda. He was just a disturbed young man with few prospects and not much interested in accomplishing anything - except that he was fixated on actress Jodie Foster, and thought that killing the president would make her notice him. This movie clearly portrays the seriousness of the shooting - which at the time was downplayed by most people - and makes clear that Reagan's life was very much in danger as he lay on the operating table. It also, I thought, offered a good look into the lives of both Hinckley and Reagan. I came away from this thinking that I knew both of them at least a little better than when it started. There was also a very solid depiction of the jockeying for position behind the scenes as the president was out of commission - highlighted, of course, by Secretary of State Alexander Haig's famous "I am in control" statement to the press. Personally, I thought perhaps the most poignant moment of the whole movie came as a reflection to that event, after Reagan had recovered and was back at work and decided to send a personal letter to Soviet president Brezhnev. Haig objected to the letter and wanted it redrafted, only to have Reagan insist on having it sent as he had written it and then icily remind Haig that "as far as I know, I am in control here." On the other hand, it was a bit disconcerting to hear the president of the United States referring to his wife as "mommy." Perhaps that reflected the nature of the dependence that Reagan had on Nancy in many ways. The portrayal of Nancy by Cynthia Nixon was interesting. There was a softer feel to Nancy than is often the case, although it was jarring to see her with Sarah Brady at the hospital after the shooting as both of their husbands were being operated on. James Brady was Reagan's press secretary, and was shot in the head by Hinckley. After Reagan came out of surgery, Nancy just says to Sarah (after they had been comforting each other) "I'm going home now," and Sarah is left completely alone in the hospital chapel, not knowing if her husband would live or die. That seemed very cold.
The performances here were outstanding. In the lead roles both Tim Matheson as Reagan and Kyle S. More as Hinckley were convincing, and the supporting cast held up their parts. This really is a well done movie. I have not read O'Reilly's book of the same name (although I have read O'Reilly's "Killing Lincoln") but I would think he was pleased with this adaptation. (9/10)
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