ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – M – The Manchurian Candidate (2004) Movie Review


Director: Jonathan Demme

Writer: Daniel Pyne, Dean Georgaris (Screenplay) Richard Condon (Novel)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Jeffrey Wright, Pablo Schreiber, Anthony Mackie, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep, Jon Voight

Plot: In the midst of the Gulf War, soldiers are kidnapped and brainwashed for sinister purposes.

Tagline – Everything is under control.

Runtime: 2 Hours 9 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Manchurian Candidate starts as we see Ben Marco (Washington) leading his men in the war, one of the soldiers includes Raymond Shaw (Schreiber) who was awarded the medal of honour for his duty at war. Once out the war they have gone their separate ways, until Raymond’s mother Senator Eleanor Shaw (Streep) talks him into a vice president run, one that was a move nobody saw coming.

Ben doesn’t understand how this happened and wants to learn more about the incident in Kuwait, an incident which has left many of the soldiers with nightmares and more dangerously, being mind controlled.

Thoughts on The Manchurian Candidate

Characters – Ben Macro is the former army captain that saw some of his men fall in war, while many returned, he does live a normal life until one of his men becomes a surprise candidate for Vice President. Ben starts to look into the dreams and nightmares he once experienced and starts to learn of a bigger conspiracy of mind control being used to control the political situation. Raymond Shaw is the former soldier turned congressman whose mother had been planning his political career for decades, he will lined up to become Vice-President, a role he could do well in the future, but at the moment he is still learning, he has been put through a mind control program, being lined up to be a sleeper in the white house. Eleanor Shaw has built herself a reputation in government for being controversial, with her plan to put her son in the white house being the latest plan, an idea she has gone further than anyone ever imagined. We do see the other contenders, the former soldiers and military people that are being part of the bigger problem, with most not believing everything they are seeing from Ben.

PerformancesDenzel Washington in the leading role shows us why he is one of the greatest of all time once again, with a role which sees him carefully balance pain and paranoia through the whole film. Liev Schreiber does make for an excellent political figure that is running for office, he fits the political figure with ease, while also being deadly in the controlled side. Meryl Streep will always be the centre of attention does steal nearly ever scene in the film. The cast is strong throughout, with a few big names in early roles.

StoryThe story here follows a new surprise vice presidential candidate who has come from nowhere and ends up turning head including his own former captain who wants to look into the truth about how he got into this position so quickly, along with the nightmares his former squad have been suffering through. This is a remake of the popular movie, which does bring forward the idea of mind control off in a political world, showing how it could go unnoticed if the right people were put in the right place. We do see a lot of the film looking like a conspiracy theory that is mostly thrown out as nothing, before people do learn the shocking truth.

Mystery/Sci-Fi The mystery in the film is about whether the candidate will get elected and how far people will do to make this happen, along with the sci-fi elements being about mind control.

SettingsThe film does use the political settings that will make us understand the political play for everything.

Scene of the Movie – Election Party.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – You do need to understand American politics to understand the roles we would be seeing.

Final Thoughts This is a strong remake that updates the original with enough to give us a fresh feeling story from start to finish, with excellent performances.

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