Directed by Johnathan Demme
Starring Christopher Reeve

Sam Neill

Robert Patrick

Bonnie Bedelia

Sean Penn

Alec Baldwin

Music by John Barry

Gates is a 1992 film directed by Johnathan Demme based on the Assassination of William Gates. The film stars Christopher Reeve as President Gates, Sam Neill as Vice President Henry Baxter and Robert Patrick as the assassin Oscar Troy. The film intertwines three narratives; the activites of President Gates and Troy during the final days of Gates' life, and the actions of Baxter when he becomes the President in the aftermath of the assassination. It is regarded as one of the greatest films ever made and was nominated for several Oscars.


The film begins with President Gates getting ready to make a public appearance at the Plaza Hotel in Chicago as part of a charity fundraiser. His wife, First Lady Audrey Gates, is suffering from a chest infection and is unable to attend. He tells her that he wishes her could stay with her, but as she says, "duty calls." She then helps him to chose a tie and kisses him goodbye, unknowingly for the last time.

The film then cuts to Vice President Baxter, who becomes increasingly agitated as he tries to find an aspirin, but is unable to locate any. He goes to a nearby truck stop, where he is recognized by the clerk. While the clerk goes to fetch the aspirin, a news bulletin comes on the TV which states that Gates has been shot in Chicago.

The final character introduced is Oscar Troy, the man who killed the President. He is first seen in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. As the President lies fatally wounded, Troy is apprehended by Secret Service agents and detained. The camera zooms in on his emotionless face before cutting to a week beforehand, when his flight lands in Chicago and he later buys a gun.

The film constantly cuts between two periods of time; the week prior to the killing, during which the actions of Gates and Troy are traced, and the week afterward, where Baxter, now the President, must deal with the crisis. The Gates segments deal largely with portraying him for who he was; a simple, average family oriented man (although he had no children; the film briefly mentions Audrey's miscarriage but it is not focused on) and focuses on three key relationships of his; with his wife Audrey, his Vice President Baxter and his trusted advisor and close friend, Barney Wallace. The scenes with Troy show him buying a gun and planning out the assassination. He sometimes hears the voice of his mother in his head, and reads Catcher in the Rye, just as John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, had. The Baxter sections see him thrown into the position of the most powerful man in the world, and must suddenly deal with the world's hardest hitting issues. He also has personal issues to deal with; he must look after the widowed Audrey and also becomes paranoid, worried that he may also die at the hands of an assassin.

The parts featuring Gates and Troy start to grow closer together and draw up further parallels. The film eventually builds back up the assassination, but while Gates says goodbye to his wife, Troy phones his girlfriend, Stacy Chan, in New York, and bids her farewell, telling her there's something he has to do before leaving the hotel he is staying at, carrying the gun.

Troy steals a uniform from a hotel employee and hides the gun in his sleeve. He stands in the crowd and watches as the President's limo arrives. Gates gets out and is cheered by the crowd, and then enters the lobby. As Gates reaches the center of the foyer area, Troy steps forward, sliding the gun out of his sleeve and shooting the President in the chest. Gates falls down and is caught by Wallace, dying in his arms. Wallace cries and begs Gates not to leave him, but it soon becomes clear that Gates is dead.

The film ends with a montage of the characters as Baxter adresses the nation, telling them that they pull through this difficult time and rise up in the face of terror. Among the clips shown we see Audrey leaving the White House for the final time, Wallace observing Gates' funeral, and Troy being shot to death by Milo Van Hauer during an attempted escape from custody. In the final shot of the film, Baxter finishes his speech as the camera zooms into his face, and the American flag is reflected by his glasses.


Christopher Reeve - President William Raymond Gates

Sam Neill - Vice President/President Henry Thomas Baxter

Robert Patrick - Oscar Joseph Troy

Bonnie Bedelia - Audrey Geena Gates

Sean Penn - Barney Wallace

Alec Baldwin - Milo Van Hauer

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.