Murder at 1600 (1997)

(On TV, October 2015)  The nice thing about viewing films of a certain vintage is that they can often capture qualities that even skilled admirers can’t quite get.  1997 is now far away enough from 2015 to accumulate a nice patina of historicity, and viewing thrillers of the era can bring back great memories… especially middle-grade examples of the form such as Murder at 1600.  I still remember the over-the-top tough-guy trailer narration (“An address that changes all the rules.”) and seeing it today, the silliness of its best/worse moments (as in: shooting at a helicopter with a handgun and actually managing to hit it) is more charming than infuriating.  Wesley Snipes is, bluntly, not the best choice as the tough cop who gets to investigate a murder at the White House: He’s got the machismo down pat for the action sequences, but it’s hard to actually believe him as a top-notch detective.  But if you think that’s a problem… then you don’t understand the panache of the film.  Murder at 1600 is ridiculous, but unapologetically so, and more than fifteen years later this becomes endearing.  I’m not sure, though, that I would have said the same had I reviewed the film back in 1997.

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