Wesley Snipes plays a Washington, D.C., homicide detective who is called in to investigate a murder in the White House and becomes embroiled in a top-level cover-up plot.
There were two movies about murder and the U.S. presidency released in 1997, and when you compare it to Absolute Power
, this one is clearly the lesser of the two. That doesn't mean it's a bad movie, but it does make it a mildly disappointing one, and it illustrates the hazards of crafting a film to fit the persona of its leading man. In this case, you've got Wesley Snipes, a young, savvy man of action, playing a Washington, D.C., police detective assigned to investigate the murder of a woman in the White House. The president's son is a prime suspect, but there's a cover-up underway that forces Snipes to intensify his investigation beyond normal parameters. For a while at least, this makes Murder at 1600
a sharp and interesting film, and while the national security advisor (Alan Alda) seems highly cooperative (but don't be so sure), Snipes meets a secret service member (Diane Lane) who shares his belief in a high-level conspiracy. Unfortunately, that's when the film takes a downward plunge, resorting to a series of thriller clichés including an unlikely chase through secret tunnels beneath the White House. We're not suggesting this couldn't happen, but it's the kind of thing you typically see in movies that have run out of original ideas before they're over. Kinda makes you want to watch Absolute Power
again, doesn't it? --Jeff Shannon