Revisiting The Package (1989)

I’m going through a bit of a Gene Hackman phase right now and the other night I decided it was time for a rewatch of The Package starring Hackman, Tommy Lee Jones and Pam Grier. Sadly, Grier is only in a few scenes but her presence elevates any picture.

Andrew Davis (Under Siege, Above the Law, The Fugitive) directs and is no stranger to adult orientated action thrillers with conspiracy themes. The story is unpredictable and filled with tension as Hackman’s Green Beret sergeant Johnny Gallagher escorts a prisoner (Tommy Lee Jones) back to the US, but he escapes and Gallagher must risk life and limb to catch him.

It’s packed with twists and turns with Gallagher unsure who he can trust in a conspiracy which reaches high ranking military officials and a potential assassination attempt. Admittedly it does get a little over convoluted so you have to pay close attention otherwise you may end up getting a bit lost.

The action is gritty and real with shoot-outs and a few chases which are all well executed keeping the pacing tight. It isn’t exactly constant action but the tension should keep you on the edge of your seat and the performances as you’d expect are first rate.

Gallagher is one of Hackman’s most appealing characters and is the type of guy that everybody likes so he is easy to root for from the start. My brother and I were discussing why Hackman did so many military themed movies in his career but we found out that before he was an actor he was a marine and once stated “I have trouble with direction, because I have trouble with authority. I was not a good Marine” – well, at least he is one of the all-time great actors so I’m glad he found his true calling.

Tommy Lee Jones gives one of his most menacing performances in this movie (at least for the first half) where at he laughs and jokes with Gallagher then one moment his face completely changes and we are looking at pure evil. It would have been better if he was the big bad of the movie but there are a few too many other people involved so he doesn’t get enough time to shine as a truly memorable villain.

John Heard also manages to look particularly nasty in The Package as one of the other bad guys and it’s hard to believe this is Kevin McAllister’s dad from Home Alone. Speaking of Home Alone keep your eyes open for Ralph Foody who played Johnny in the black and white movie Angels with Filthy Souls; it’s only one scene but it was fun to see him before he had the iconic role in Home Alone. This wasn’t his first movie with Andrew Davis either having worked on Code of Silence and Above the Law. His last movie was Home Alone 2 in 1992. Davis clearly likes to work with the same people a lot as he would also work with Tommy Lee Jones again on Under Siege and The Fugitive.

The score to The Package is rather 80’s sounding now but it works for the movie and during the action-packed finale it really ratchets up the excitement.

Overall, The Package is a sophisticated action thriller that we rarely see today so if you haven’t seen it before then I wold track it down as any movie featuring Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones is going to be worth your time.