John Malkovich received his second Oscar nomination for playing potential presidential assassin Mitch Leary in In the Line of Fire.
Malkovich finds the right note with Mitch Leary and turns out to be incredibly effective in the role. Malkovich always has the right amount of creepiness and intelligence in his performance to make Leary a very memorable villain. Malkovich never really goes over the top with Leary but rather he keeps just this underscored creepiness that makes his performance work quite well.
Malkovich really is just right in his manner of speaking, to show the insanity of Leary but also that it is a sort of calculated insanity. He is not just crazy but rather someone who knows exactly what he is doing even if what he wishes to do is mad. This makes him all the more chilling, two scenes in particular stand out for me as incredibly chilling because of Malkovich's cold effectiveness. The scenes where he murders the two women and the two hunters. Not just because of the act but because of that particular way Malkovich handles those scenes. He never starts going crazy but is just cold and merciless in the most disturbing way.
Malkovich though does not make Leary a one dimensional murderer but also a isolated man who wants to be understood. I really like how Malkovich shows Leary's want for Clint Eastwood's character to understand, how Leary felt cheated by the government. Malkovich makes Leary want for understanding feel believable and honest despite coming from such an odd character. I felt he was exceptionally strong though when he freaks out briefly in particular scenes. Because Malkovich only does this at specific times it shows that Leary is not easily upset but becomes so when he feels betrayed. His coldness at almost all other times is perfectly contrasted by Malkovich, which makes these few "loud" scenes completely appropriate and very effective. Malkovich gives an interesting performance, and creates memorable character with Mitch Leary.