Tim Matheson (as Ronald Reagan) in Killing Reagan. (Photo Credit: National Geographic Channels/ Hopper Stone, SMPSP)

The National Geographic Channel will premiere ‘Killing Reagan‘ today. A TV movie about the assassination attempt suffered by the 40th President of the Unites States, Ronald Reagan, and the subsequent aftermath.

The film bases itself loosely on a book published by TV host, journalist, and political commentator Bill O’Reilly in 2015. California-based writer Martin Dugard co-authored the book. It has been highly criticized and fact-checked by many Reagan historians and biographers.

The film belongs to O’Reilly’s ‘Killing’ book franchise, a collection of tales about the assassinations of historical figures such as President Kennedy and President Lincoln. NatGeo has made TV movies of almost all of the books in the series.

Tim Matheson will play the President. He is best known for participating in the 1999 political drama ‘The West Wing,’ in which he portrayed Vice President John Hoynes. He received a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series because of this role.

Supporting characters and recent reviews

The Grammy and Emmy winning actress Cynthia Nixon, famous for her portrayal of Miranda Hobbes in ‘Sex and the City,’ will play Ronald Reagan’s wife, Nancy. She is also scheduled to portray American poet Emily Dickinson in the upcoming Terence Davies’ film ‘A Quiet Passion.’

This is the second time she lands a role as First Lady. The first was on ‘Warm Springs’ (2005), where she played Eleanor Roosevelt. She is unrelated to President Richard Nixon, despite her last name.

An article published by The Hollywood Reporter argues that both of the lead actors’ performances are consistent and that the movie feels more ‘cohesive’ than its predecessors. The review holds almost no praise for the film, citing lack of energy, drive, and insight.

Another review by People Magazine argues that Matheson succeeds at portraying Reagan but that Nixon’s characterization could have been better. However, it notes that the Presidential couple might have been the highlight of the film.

John Hinckley Jr. was the man behind Reagan’s assassination, who tried to murder the President to receive the approval of actress Jodie Foster. He was captured and sentenced to a psychiatric facility for insanity. Kyle S. More (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The CLAN) plays him in the film.

THR’s review called his performance ‘sad and compulsively driven,’ but claims that the assassination scenes have ‘no real style.’ The character of James Brady (Michael H. Cole), who was permanently disabled because of a gunshot wound he received from Hinckley, could have also been portrayed better.

‘Killing Reagan’ will start today at 8 p.m. in NatGeo, ET/PT.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter