Television movie “Killing Reagan” lives up to its book counterpart
By Chris Skarnulis, Arts and Entertainment Editor
One of the more overlooked and less-talked-about assassination attempts on a President of the United States’ life is the attempt on President Ronald Reagan’s life. On March 30, 1981, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Reagan in Washington D.C. A book adaption of the assassination was co-authored by television host and political journalist Bill O’Reilly and author Martin Dugard. The book was released on Sept. 22, 2015, while a television movie adaption was released Oct. 21, 2016.
The movie shadowed the book in that it included a dark and dramatic narrative that kept audiences glued to their television screens. “Killing Reagan” mostly lived up to the expectations that the book adaption had laid as foundation.
The film’s focus recounts the events that occurred on the day of the attempted assassination. Hinckley shot a .22 caliber Röhm RG-14 revolver six times at Reagan as he left the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., after the president addressed an AFL–CIO conference. Hinckley was unsuccessful in the act, instead wounding police officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and critically wounded press secretary James Brady. Hinckley did not hit Reagan directly, but left him in critical
condition after a bullet ricocheted off the side of the presidential limousine and hit him in the chest. He did not try to flee and was arrested at the scene. The movie then centers on the leadership of Reagan’s cabinet by Secretary of State Alexander Haig and the anarchy that ensued in the White House during Reagan’s absence.
The most impressive aspect of this movie was the convincing performances of Tim Matheson as President Reagan, Cynthia Nixon as wife Nancy Reagan and Kyle S. More as Hinckley. Combined with a great supporting cast, everyone gave solid performances.
Easily the most chilling aspect of the movie was the portrayal of Hinckley. Kyle S. More dove into the mind of a madman, playing a disturbed young man with few aspirations and not much interest in leading a productive life. Hinckley harbored an unhealthy obsession for actress Jodie Foster, and thought that killing the president would make her notice him.
This movie clearly portrays the seriousness of the shooting, which at the time was downplayed by most individuals. The movie makes it clear that Reagan’s life was very much in danger. It also offered a good look into the lives of both Hinckley and Reagan. It offered viewers a perspective that they had been unable to establish before.