Just yesterday I dropped off my daughter at her choice of college, which happens to be my alma mater. The day felt like a time warp. Memories, long pushed aside by a busy life, kept setting up film screenings in my head. As I blathered on about some irrelevant fact or another, she gave me the most endearing look of tolerance. Remembering the past as the present unfolds does the trick of revealing the granular difference of what seems like just a few years.
The movie Presideo, an action thriller from 1988, had me drawing similar comparisons. The shots of San Fransisco are so good. What you see is a city growing past a rough go through the 70’s. There are many street scenes, the cityscape with night lights, a bustling China Town and various residential options. I couldn’t help but thinking how wonderful it was to visit San Fransisco through the 90’s. And now, 20 years on, it’s back to a struggling mess.
The famous military base, The Presidio, was dismantled in 1994. Perhaps there was some motivation to preserve a sense of it in the film. The theme of the old guard military of mid-century, represented by Sean Connery’s role, and the younger generation runs throughout. The aging military man strides around in full uniform while Mark Harmon and Meg Ryan both slip in and out of bomber-styled jackets.
True to this genre, there is only one (ok- two if you count the GI who gets shot in the movie’s opening scene) female role. As usual, the lead lady is irresistibly attractive, funny, daring, and rebukes only in a way that everyone knows is temporary. Meg Ryan shines with grown-up Shirley Temple curls gently swirling around a beatific smile and large doe-like eyes. At least if there is only to be one woman, the producers picked one above the grade.
It’s certainly not the movie of the century but it does offer strong entertainment value. The car chases are genuine and done back in a time before AI, so they really set them on fire. And you will smile when Harmon looks at his pager with delight, pulls over to the curb, and pops into the near phone booth to call his buddy. Aside from a few brief lapses in acting, the actors do a great job. And the plot has a twist to boot. The past can still keep you on your toes.