After a failed military exercise in Germany, Army Sgt. Johnny Gallagher (Gene Hackman, The French Connection) is ordered to escort a detainee (Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive) back to the states. When his “package” takes off, Gallagher asks his ex-wife (Joanna Cassidy, Under Fire), who is an Army Officer, to help him find the man. Gallagher slowly realizes that his mundane assignment is part of an elaborate assassination plot.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Taut, well-crafted suspenser combines elements of post-Watergate paranoid thrillers with Reagan-era anxieties. Unfortunately, history was not on the side of the movie — the Berlin Wall came down as The Package was playing in theaters thus instantly rendering the movie dated. Now that the “Evil Empire” (aka Russia) seems to be eager to start an all-brand new Cold War, one could argue that the film has suddenly become timely again.
Directed by action specialist Andrew Davis (The Fugitive and Under Siege) from an original script by John Bishop, The Package is a surprisingly suspenseful, engaging political thriller. The story moves at a brisk pace, and as expected from a Davis movie, the action sequences are well-staged. The climax is pretty good too. Although the film deals with an array of complex issues, The Package never gets too dense — it remains a fun thriller whose only purpose is to keep you entertained.
Gene Hackman is rock solid — I’ve never seen him give a bad performance. Hackman’s sincere work is the glue that keeps the film together. I also liked the fact that he was given an older love interest. Joanna Cassidy has nice rapport with Hackman (they were also a great screen couple in Under Fire, another fine thriller) — it’s nice to see a middle-aged couple at the center of an action movie.
Tommy Lee Jones is another consistently good actor. He underplays his villain nicely. Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) has a small role as Cassidy’s friend. Dennis Franz (Dressed to Kill) is Hackman’s old buddy and John Heard (Cat People) is a corrupt military officer. All these fine performances lend credibility to this fun, but far-fetched conspiracy thriller. James Newton Howard’s (The Dark Knight) vigorous music is another plus.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
The Package never reaches greatness, but this almost forgotten movie is at the very least worth of a look. It’s a competently directed, finely acted, technically adequate thriller — not a bad way to spend nearly two hours in front of the TV. If you are a fan of Hackman and/or you just like fun thrillers, there is a good chance that you will enjoy The Package. Color, 108 minutes, Rated R.