Mariel Hemingway returns to the role of Secret Service agent extraordinaire Alex McGregor, a part she originated in the highly rated TBS movie “First Daughter.” The sequel, “First Target,” starred Daryl Hannah as Alex, but Hemingway is back for “First Shot” as the earnest workaholic who must protect the most shot-at president in history, portrayed in all three films by Gregory Harrison. When the president is hit by one of these bullets in “First Shot,” Alex must deal with her guilt and her job, all while trying to hold her new marriage together. Welcome to the world of action movies designed for women, in which a contrived, even irritating action plot provides an excuse for dialogue about feelings and relationships.
Alex is recently married to tracker Grant Coleman (Doug Savant), who helped her save the president’s daughter in telepic No. 1. Because of Alex’s utter devotion to her job — she’s now a big honcho at the Secret Service — the two have been unable to go on their honeymoon to Mexico, causing potential friction for the newlyweds. Just as they’re getting ready to make another attempt, a bomb explosion at a military base in the Northwest puts Alex on alert, especially when the president insists on attending the memorial service for those who died. It’s there, during the 21-gun salute, that President Hayes is hit, barely saved by Alex’s quick reflexes.
It’s quickly discovered that the primary villain here, Adam Carter (Dean Wray), is related to the folks Alex foiled in “First Daughter.” He’s after Alex as well as the president, and eventually Grant gets caught in the middle.
This is intended as pure escapist entertainment, and screenwriters Carey W. Hayes and Chad Hayes, who’ve written all three movies, keep politics as far away as possible. None of this is political — it’s all personal. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Times have changed since “First Daughter” in 1999, and presidential assassination attempts as entertainment have a fundamentally different hue.
Director Armand Mastroianni and his team’s most significant achievement in “First Shot” is to make sure we don’t associate any of this with reality. In other words, nobody’s concerned about who’s running the country when the president is unconscious — here, they’re all more concerned with thawing the cold war between the president’s daughter (Jenna Leigh Green) and his girlfriend (Wanda Cannon).
Believe it or not, there’s something kind of appealing about the film’s ability to bury its head that deep in the sand.