A film that kicks off with lines like "In 141 years, there's never been a traitor in the Secret Service..." is promising big things. The tension is built up to climactic overload from the outset. Suspense, intrigue and twisting plotlines seem a certainty. Giggles and amusement, not so much... or maybe...
This is the Secret Service as you've never seen it before. The CIA is trying to protect the President of the United States from a planned assassination attempt but a mole in the camp has other ideas.
Pete Garrison (Douglas) has been in the Secret Service for more years than he'd probably care to remember - a loyal servant to the Service and indeed President Ballentine (Rasche) - up until a certain point. When he gets wind of a plot to kill the President he immediately informs Montrose (Donovan), the leader's right-hand man in terms of personal security, who pulls together a team to foil the plot.
Top investigator David Breckinridge (Sutherland) and his rookie partner Jill Marin (Longoria) are also called in. So several lie detector tests later, a traitor is discovered within the CIA. All eyes of suspicion are firmly resting on Garrison, who initiated the investigation (helped by the fact that Breckinridge now has a serious grudge against his former best friend Garrison). What is he hiding? What is the point of his affair with the First Lady (Basinger)? Will you really care about any of this at the end of the movie?
It's hard to seriously rate the actors in question here when it's not quite clear what they were going for. Obviously the script, which ends up comedic, was initially meant as a serious piece of work, so it's a tough task for them. Douglas seems a little too straight-laced to pull off some of the lines that he delivers - with the result inevitably being uncontrollable laughter from the audience.
Sutherland is in familiar territory and, although he hams it up, isn't the worst thing about this. Longoria too holds her own in her understated role, fitting in well with the big boys. While Basinger and Rasche, as America's first couple, don't end up contributing too much at any point.
This is so bad it's good. You'll split your sides laughing at the clichéd lines and completely over-the-top action that unfolds. To totally slate it could mean depriving a lot of people of almost two hours of laugh-out-loud moments and some comedies of late haven't even delivered that.
So it's not what it's meant to be, but for what it is, it's damn funny.