Smartly written, sharply played and directed at a cracking pace that never sacrifices clarity for speed, The Package is an enormously satisfying political thriller.
Poised and professional as ever, Gene Hackman is perfectly cast as a career army officer, escorting a troublesome soldier (Tommy Lee Jones) Stateside to stand trial. When this ‘package’ (the military term for the person being delivered) takes a powder, Hackman visits the man’s estranged wife – and soon realizes the package is posing as someone he’s not.
When the woman turns up murdered – and Hackman’s under house arrest for the killing – the action really heats up. He turns to his ex-wife (Joanna Cassidy), also an army officer. Soon she finds herself behind the eight ball along with her ex.
The film’s grand finale – in which various forces are seen converging on a Chicago hotel to either kill or prevent a killing – is very effective. You know exactly where each character is in relation to the other in this very complex piece of staging.
In the brief but pivotal title role, Jones shows it’s possible to play an out-of-control psychopath without turning into a gargoyle. Cassidy is as smooth as ever.