The President’s Man: A Line in the Sand

It turns out that Chuck Norris isn't just a television star but a psychic: This CBS telepic depicting an attempted terrorist attack on the U.S. by a Saudi national based in Afghanistan was filmed in May.

Joshua McCord - Chuck Norris
Deke Slater - Judson Mills
Que - Jennifer Tung
President Adam Mayfield - Robert Urich
Jack Stanton - Philip Casnoff

It turns out that Chuck Norris isn’t just a television star but a psychic: This CBS telepic depicting an attempted terrorist attack on the U.S. by a Saudi national based in Afghanistan was filmed in May. Of course, in this version, Norris and his secretive can-do team stop the nuclear bomb that’s been smuggled into the country from exploding with a lone second left on the clock. Then he gives Osama — or rather, Rashid, which is what the not-really-disguised Osama Bin Laden is called here — a good ol’ whuppin’. Sorry to give away the ending, but it’s the only way to do full justice to this alternate reality television, where the good guys always win because the machine guns always miss them. Norris-land has never seemed so unreal, or so appealing.

Pic is actually a sequel to a film that aired in 2000. In that one, Joshua McCord (Norris) decided it was time to retire as the “President’s Man,” called on to do quietly what others can’t, and he recruited a young, buff replacement named Deke Slater — played here by soap star Judson Mills, who replaces another soap star from the first pic. The third member of the team is Joshua’s half-Vietnamese daughter Que (Jennifer Tung), who spars verbally and (in training) physically with Deke.

In the screenplay by John Lansing and Bruce Cervi, the president (here played by Robert Urich) is publicly threatened by the leader of a terrorist group, the one responsible for the African embassy assault, the USS Cole attack, and the first (alas) World Trade Center bombing (who could they possibly be referring to?). If the U.S. doesn’t release the men who’ve been tried for that latter event, Rashid will explode the nuclear bomb his son has smuggled into the country.

Only Joshua and his team can capture Rashid and then stop the bomb from destroying an American city. That premise, of course, also means that others can’t do it, and in this case that refers to the White House staff, the U.S. military, the FBI and all other elements of the government, which come off as ineffective, if not incompetent. This may not be intentional, but it certainly is a disheartening portrait if one thinks about it.

Thinking about it isn’t really what a Chuck Norris movie is there for, of course — it’s escapist entertainment that makes no apologizes for its bad acting, reliance on explosions and general cheesy cheeriness. Because it comes a bit too close to reality, “The President’s Man: A Line in the Sand” seems both more comic and more serious than others of its ilk.

The President's Man: A Line in the Sand

CBS; Sun. March 3, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Texas by Washo Brothers Entertainment in association with Norris Brothers Entertainment. Executive producers, Chuck Norris, Aaron Norris; co-executive producer, Garry A. Brown; supervising producer, Leslie Stout Glennon; co-producer, Mike Elias; director, Eric Norris; writers, John Lansing, Bruce Cervi.

Crew: Cinematography, Rick Anderson; production design, Phil Leonard; editor, David Latham; music, Kevin Kiner; sound, Darrell Henke; casting, Shana Landsburg, Liz Keigley, Sari E. Keigley. Running time: 120 MIN.

Cast: Joshua McCord - Chuck Norris
Deke Slater - Judson Mills
Que - Jennifer Tung
President Adam Mayfield - Robert Urich
Jack Stanton - Philip Casnoff
With: Roxanne Hart, Joel Swetow, Alex Dodd, Thom Barry, Bruce Nozick, Maz Jobrani, Kay Bailey Hutchison.

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