The Package (1989 film)

Last updated
The Package
Cover of The Package.jpg
Directed by Andrew Davis
Written by John Bishop
Produced by
Cinematography Frank Tidy
Edited by
Music by James Newton Howard
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release date
  • August 25, 1989 (1989-08-25)
Running time
108 min
CountryUnited States
Budget$18 million
Box office$10,647,219

The Package is a 1989 American political thriller film directed by Andrew Davis and starring Gene Hackman, Joanna Cassidy, Tommy Lee Jones, John Heard, and Dennis Franz.


Set during the Cold War, the film depicts the U.S. and Soviet governments as they are about to sign a disarmament treaty to completely eliminate nuclear weapons. However, elements within each country's military are vehemently opposed to such a plan, and determined to stop it at all costs.

Roger Ebert awarded the film three stars out of four, calling it "smarter than most thrillers". [1]


Gene Hackman stars as Johnny Gallagher, a United States Army Special Forces Master Sergeant who is assigned to escort The Package: a prisoner, an Army deserter named Walter Henke (Tommy Lee Jones), from West Berlin back to the United States.

While traveling, Henke escapes with the help of an undercover team. But during Gallagher's pursuit, a woman is killed and Gallagher is framed for it by the same undercover team that helped Boyette escape. Sergeant Gallagher is confined to the base, accused of this murder. Gallagher had been pursuing the prisoner's records with the help of his ex-wife, Eileen, (Joanna Cassidy), a lieutenant colonel and her friend Lieutenant Ruth Butler (Pam Greer) in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the U.S. Army. Lt. Butler immediately tries to share some key information about the escaped prison, but the night is killed in a hit and run within minutes of meeting Eileen, who calls her ex-husband for help. Gallagher escapes with the help of a friend. Gallagher and Eileen meet up and discover that the man he was escorting was not Walter Henke, but a deserted Vietnam veteran named Boyette. Together, they learn that the real Walter Henke is in Chicago; they travel to the city and Sergeant Gallagher asks a cop he knows to help him, Chicago police Lt. Milan Delich (Dennis Franz) with whom Sgt. Gallagher served in Vietnam.

We learn that the shadowy undercover group includes Boyette, U.S. Army Generals, Soviet Union generals, police officers, and others, who are all actively pursuing a plot to assassinate the leader of the Soviet Union (clearly resembling Mikhail Gorbachev) after a meeting in Chicago with the President of the United States. The two world leaders are meeting to sign a peace agreement focused on nuclear disarmament. This undercover group has recruited the real Walter Henke to participate as a protester to the agreement, however, he is actually killed by the shadowy group and setup to take the fall for the anticipated assassination. Boyette kills him and is the professional assassin hired to take out the Soviet leader.

Gallagher, Eileen, and Delich work together to warn the authorities and to deduce the location of Boyette. Just as Boyette is about to pull the trigger, Gallagher approaches and shoots Boyette dead. Gallagher then exchanges words about patriotism and nuclear disarmament with the U.S. General who was in the shadowy group plotting the assassination.

The movie ends with newscast voiceovers indicating the plot had been discovered and all participants will be prosecuted. As the U.S. General and Soviet General who organized the assassination attempt are escaping, they are then assassinated themselves, quickly shot by their limo driver as the movie ends.


Production notes

Although the story takes place in Germany, Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia, and Chicago, the film was shot entirely in Chicago and at the Soviet War Memorial in Tiergarten, Berlin.


The Package holds a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 15 reviews. [2]

Home video

The film was first released on VHS by Orion Home Video in 1989. It was re-released by MGM Home Entertainment in 1999, under the MGM Movie Time series. The film was released on DVD on January 18, 2000.

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  1. Roger Ebert (August 25, 1989). "The Package".
  2. The Package (1989), Rotten Tomatoes