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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.89%
Worth A Look: 7.89%
Pretty Bad: 21.05%
Total Crap: 5.26%

3 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Murder at 1600
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by Charles Tatum

"Shenanigans in the White House? Naaahhhh...."
2 stars

As political conspiracy films of 1997 go, "Murder at 1600" is no "Absolute Power," but definitely better than "Shadow Conspiracy."

Wesley Snipes is DC detective Harlan Regis, who plays by his own rules (yeah, I know). He and his cracking-wise partner Stengel (Dennis Miller...Dennis Miller?) are called to investigate a dead woman's (Mary Moore) body found in a bathroom at the White House. This list of suspects is long. Regis is stonewalled right away by evil White House security guy Spikings (Daniel Benzali, who is filmed as if possessed by Satan himself). The wimpy President Jack Neil's (Ronny Cox) hot-to-trot son Kyle (Tate Donovan) is finally the red herring Regis settles on, until brought new information from Secret Service Agent Nina Chance (Diane Lane). National Security Adviser Jordan tries to advise the president through a "international crisis" (a US military plane's crew is being held hostage in North Korea), and lead Regis and Chance through the bureaucracy surrounding the murder investigation.

This was filmed back when Snipes was a big-screen action hero, and his performance here is very good. The entire cast, in fact, is good, and Snipes keeps up with them in a performance that could have turned this into a franchise of more Harlan Regis conspiracy adventures. Dwight Little's direction is better than the terrible script, his action sequences are nicely edited and effectively shot, including a shoot-out and fistfight in a suburban home that is nothing short of excellent.

The biggest problem with the film is the script. First of all, some of the characters' names sound like they were improvised during an afternoon screenwriting seminar- Harlan Regis? Nina Chance? Nick Spikings? An assassin named John Kerry? Regis is given some nice characterization. He's a history buff, and his building is being razed to make room for a parking garage, all stuff that Snipes plays well. However, a good back story cannot make up for some incredible leaps in logic, and screenwriting conveniences for the sake of moving the plot along. One such scene has White House security seizing the personal effects of the murdered victim, yet "hiding" them in an evidence room where anyone, like our secret service agent leading lady, can get ahold of it. Also, how fortunate is it that a secret tunnel taking our heroes into the White House is guarded by exactly two padlocks and a motion sensor? The film's politics do skew a little left, naturally since this is Hollywood, with the military men pushing war while the president wants to take his time and negotiate. The final motive for the murder is also unnecessarily complicated, and you may realize that the murderer and head conspirator didn't have to stage the killing at the White House, and still could have put their evil plan into action. Then again, the title "Murder Kinda Near 1600, Like a Block Over" doesn't have the same ring to it. Watch for an uncomfortable bit involving Charles Rocket as a suicidal government worker. Rocket did eventually kill himself in real life, and the scene made me squirm.

In the end, "Murder at 1600" doesn't succeed, and after the known Washington DC security upgrades after the 9-11 attacks, turns it into a nostalgic but poor actioner.

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originally posted: 04/13/14 14:35:26
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User Comments

11/17/17 morris campbell not as bad as the white house now trump sucks 3 stars
2/13/17 morris campbell pretty good nothing more 3 stars
4/15/14 Richard Brandt It's no OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN but then what is? Oh wait... 3 stars
2/15/11 Jeff Wilder Passably entertaining. Snipes and Lane help it rise above average slightly. 3 stars
1/17/07 Sepi53 suprisingly good movie 5 stars
9/06/06 Nishant wonderful movie 5 stars
2/02/05 G-Man great movie 5 stars
2/01/04 69er Entertaining in parts, but many plot holes and contrivances. 3 stars
1/01/03 Jack Sommersby Predictable but passable. Diane Lane is solid ans sexy. 3 stars
6/29/02 R.W. Welch Nobody in this pic seems to be taking it seriously, and with good reason. 2 stars
4/27/02 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Should've been better. Predictable because Alda seems always to run either hot or cold. 3 stars
1/13/02 Andrew Carden Pretty Good Movie. Interesting, Exciting. Refreshing Performances. 4 stars
9/14/01 Butterbean A done-over action flick. 3 stars
9/08/00 Terrie Smith One cliche after another but not a bad time-waster. Snipes has done much better. 3 stars
3/01/00 yankee this was a good flick, motives for killing that deal with foreign policy is a great concept 4 stars
12/23/99 Wafer What the fuck was this 1 stars
10/06/99 strike A very hokey thriller. 2 stars
12/29/98 thEnd Get the movie, get the popcorn... Great entertainment, worth renting. 4 stars
8/19/98 Johny I expected this to be crap, but it was decent rental 3 stars
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  18-Apr-1997 (R)

  11-Jul-1997 (15)

  11-Dec-1997 (M)

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