The low score for this is partly not entirely the film’s fault. Despite the title, it’s actually the third entry in a series of TV movies – following First Daughter and First Target. All focus on blonde Secret Service agent Alex McGregor, charged with protecting the President and his family. However, only this one is available on Netflix, which is where I picked it up: had I known in advance, I would likely have started at the beginning. Certainly, the abundance of references to events prior to the start of this movie becomes explicable – if no less irritating – and this might well make more sense if you’ve seen, in particular, First Daughter. The makers seem largely to ignore the second entry, First Target – perhaps because the role of McGregor there was played by Daryl Hannah, after Mariel Hemingway turned down the role she had played in #1. She returned here, supposedly because she “was impressed with the script”. The cynical reader may suggest this is usually acting code-speak for “needed the money,” especially considering the script here is probably the weakest element.
The events of Daughter seem to serve as the foundation, with a survivor of the militia group who kidnapped the President’s daughter in the earlier TVM, now out for revenge, both on the Commander-in-Chief and on Alex. If the storyline had kept to this, it might have been decent enough, although the militia man’s plot is way more complex than sensible. But the writers kept shoehorning on additional elements. The President has a girlfriend! [Never mind there hasn’t actually been a single person in the White House for almost a hundred years] She doesn’t get on with his daughter! There’s a new guy in the Secret Service! He might be gay! The number of times I had to suppress an urge to yell “Who cares?” at the TV were only surpassed by the number of times I physically dozed off for a few minutes, and had to rewind a bit.
The pacing suffers from its obvious origins, with dramatic cliff-hangers fading to black, where the advert breaks need to be inserted. The main problem, however, is that it’s neither exciting nor credible. The landscape – both televisually and of the world as a whole – has changed drastically since the series started in 1999, yet it seems the film is still stuck in a pre-9/11 timewarp, before the murky merging of war and terrorism which spawned the likes of 24. Alex McGregor wouldn’t last five minutes with Jack Bauer. It is certainly understandable why this entry marked the last foray for her, and perhaps it’s best I started here, as I don’t find myself with much inclination to look for the two films which preceded it.
Dir: Armand Mastroianni
Star: Mariel Hemingway, Doug Savant, Dean Wray, Gregory Harrison