DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Rod Lurie
Tim Matheson, Cynthia Nixon, Kyle More
Writing Credits:
Bill O'Reilly and Eric Simonson

A look at John Hinkley's 1981 assassination attempt against U.S. President Ronald Reagan

Not Rated

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 2/7/2017

• 6 Featurettes


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Killing Reagan (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 8, 2017)

Because I wasn’t born until 1967, I didn’t live through the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The biggest attempted slaying of a president that occurred during my lifetime happened in March 1981, when John Hinckley attempted to kill President Reagan.

This event becomes the subject of 2016’s Killing Reagan. The movie looks at Ronald Reagan’s (Tim Matheson) campaign to be president as well as the early days of his tenure.

Obviously, Killing spends ample time with Hinckley’s (Kyle S. More) assassination attempt, and we see him in the months beforehand as well. The film also details the aftermath of this event and its impact on the president.

Prior Killing movies looked as Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, two presidents whose fates better match the title. I get that the Killing moniker acts as a “brand”, but it still seems odd to put Reagan in that category since Hinckley didn’t assassinate him.

In any case, this Killing offers a tale that can be potentially more intriguing than those in the Lincoln and Kennedy films because it covers territory less well-explored. The Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations have been covered over and over in various media, but Hinckley’s attempt to murder Reagan hasn’t received nearly as much retrospective coverage.

Ironically, this means that although I remember the attempted assassination of Reagan first-hand, I actually know less about its details than I do the Lincoln/Kennedy murders. Killing helps flesh out that picture in a fairly satisfying manner.

Undoubtedly the most interesting parts of Killing relate to those that depict Hinckley. Again, this comes from the familiarity POV, as we simply know a lot less about the wannabe assassin than we do his target.

Killing manages to give us a largely informative take on Hinckley. As depicted, he comes across as mentally unhinged but not into “total nutbag” territory. The movie shows his descent into the emotional morass without too many exaggerated “crazy guy” moments, and these allow us to get a decent feel for the character.

The aspects of the film with Reagan also entertain, though they seem a bit more mundane. Matheson offers a solid take on Reagan’s personality, as he conveys the president’s affable presence. Cynthia Nixon seems less convincing as Nancy, but she does fine in the part.

Probably the movie’s biggest weakness comes from its somewhat scattered focus, mainly in terms of how it shows the Reagan White House. It rips through the campaign and his early days in the White House so quickly that we don’t get a great feel for these events. A longer film could’ve explored these better and made them more fulfilling.

Still, as a 100-minute overview, Killing Reagan delivers a fairly take on the closest to a presidential assassination we’ve experienced since 1963. We learn about various elements well in this brisk, interesting tale.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

Killing Reagan appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though nothing great, the image was pleasing.

Sharpness was generally fine. Some shots could be a bit on the soft side, but those instances weren’t a substantial concern. Instead, most of the film showed reasonable delineation. I noticed no issues related to jagged edges, shimmering or edge haloes. No source defects marred the presentation, either.

Colors tended to be fairly natural, with a more emphasis on brown tones. The hues looked reasonably concise and full. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows looked clear and distinctive. This was a reasonable representation of the source.

Similar thoughts greeted the docudrama’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. A fairly talky piece, the track usually focused on the front, but it managed to open up as necessary.

Some more “action-oriented” moments – like campaign stops or the assassination attempt - used the five channels well, and the film’s score broadened to all the speakers on a frequent basis. None of these traits dazzled, but they created an appropriate soundscape for a flick like this.

Audio quality seemed solid. Dialogue was always natural and concise, and though the score tended to get a bit buried in the mix, the music seemed full and lively. Effects showed good clarity and accuracy. Again, this never became an impressive mix, but it was satisfactory.

Under the banner of Behind the Scenes of Killing Reagan, we find six brief featurettes. These include “Tim Matheson on Playing Ronald Reagan” (2:06), “Historical Accuracy” (2:38), “Cynthia Nixon on Playing Nancy Reagan” (3:11), “Behind the Scenes with Bill O’Reilly” (1:53), “Making the Costumes” (2:27) and “The Reagans: A Love Story” (2:54).

Across these, we hear from director Rod Lurie, writer Eric Simonson, executive producer David Zucker, author Bill O’Reilly, costume designer Kimberly Adams, and actors Tim Matheson and Cynthia Nixon. The clips look at story/characters/history, cast and performances, attempts at realism, costumes, and biographical elements. Though we get a smattering of good details, the snippets tend to be promotional and superficial.

For a closer look at what led to a near-assassination, Killing Reagan offers a pretty good overview. It shows us aspects of what led to the shooting and does so in a fairly involving manner. The DVD delivers largely positive picture and audio but it lacks substantial supplements. This turns into an effective docu-drama.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
1 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main