Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Executive Action (1973)
It takes two persons to create a conspiracy. Yeah, that's it. Believe it or not. A real damn conspiracy. Nowadays most people with a "critical" viewpoint on life, politics, science etc etc seem to think that a conspiracy needs to be something big, almost supernatural. Something where everyone is involved - especially government, medical companies, mega-companies and so on. But the only thing that needs is at least two people planning to do something towards a third part. I'm pretty sure that's what happened regarding the murder of JFK. It's not the first time and it's hardly the last time. The myth of "the lonely crazy gunman" that sticks it ugly head up and takes over the "serious" media and opinions of know-it-all's has taken over and no other theory is worth investigating in-depth. No wonder madmen and querulants shows up and makes an even bigger mess of each famous case. There will never be a solution of the JFK-case. Never. Neither sides is especially convincing, but one thing is for sure: it's very unlikely Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Oliver Stone's JFK (and I find that an excellent film) wasn't the first conspiracy thriller dealing with the case. The French I As In Icarus did it in the end of the seventies and in 1984 the Kris Kristofferson thriller Flashpoint used it as an interesting twist. But first of all who dealt with the assassination was Executive Action. I'm not counting movies like Seven Days in May or The Manchurian Candidate who just had similar themes. Executive Action deals with it in a very frank and open way: JFK was killed by assassins hired by rich, conservative republicans who was afraid to loose to much money on his politics. We follow the training of the killers, the planning conducted by a bunch of almost anonymous businessmen, lead by Burt Lancaster and Robert Ryan (both famous for their fight for civil rights, democratic values and as far as possible from being republicans - which also reminds us how personal this movie is, it's more than just a thriller - it's a statement).
The story is mixed with documentary footage and goes on until the murder and what happens after that... and it all ends with a montage of all the innocent victims who died mysteriously the years after the assassination.
This is a brave and bold statement, but everyone involved seem pretty sure that this could be a possible solution - and I tend to agree with them. But enough about my personal opinion. Executive Action is foremost a fantastic thriller, very low-key and realistic. It has all its legs on the ground and never goes to far in its theories. It's an unromantic and quite cynical view at what could have happen. Even the acting is toned down and very realistic. I love Robert Ryan and here he's doing on of the last performances in his career (maybe the last) and his flame is still burning, even if he probably knew he had lung cancer at this point. There's not one single bad performance in the whole film, and watch out for Dick Miller and Ed Lauter in supporting parts!