Clint Eastwood as producer-director-star strikes out in a rather slack thriller that oddly recalls a couple of Hitchcock’s lesser movies, To Catch a Thief and Topaz. This combines the mythological jewel thief of the former and the disgust for political hypocrisy of the latter, but with none of Hitchcock’s humor or stylistic flourishes. The William Goldman script—a piece of cheese without much flavor—adapts a novel by David Baldacci, and part of the problem appears to be that the story calls for someone like Cary Grant. A debonair burglar inadvertently spies the U.S. president (Gene Hackman) having sadistic sexual foreplay with the young wife of his political mentor, which leads to her getting killed. Something’s already awry in this would-be set piece, which has too many reaction shots of Eastwood, and things get worse when Eastwood as director has to plow through the laborious consequences. Generally resourceful in such matters, though always at the mercy of the scripts he selects, Eastwood has to contend here with unpleasant and uninteresting characters that even Hackman, Scott Glenn, Judy Davis, and E.G. Marshall can’t bring to life, and the halfway likable putative romantic leads, Ed Harris (detective) and Laura Linney (the burglar’s daughter), have to take a backseat to the machinations of the others.