The Manchurian Candidate

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The Manchurian Candidate
Review (7/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)


The Manchurian Candidate stars Academy Award winner Denzel Washington as Major Bennett Marco and Liev Schreiber as Sargeant Raymond Prentiss Shaw, two soldiers who were part of a platoon that was ambushed during the Gulf War in Kuwait. As the soldiers remember, Sargeant Shaw heroically fought off the enemy and earned himself a Medal of Honour in the process. But Major Marco and many of the other soldiers from the platoon have been haunted by horrific nightmares that tell a much different story about what happened on that fateful night in Kuwait. Fast-forward to almost 15 years later and Raymond Shaw is now a Congressman for the Democratic Party and a much celebrated candidate to be the next Vice President. Major Marco is still in Washington and after a run-in with a rather perplexed soldier from his old platoon, Marco realizes all is not good in Kansas. Marco's persistant (and stalker-like) behaviour soon pays off as he slowly but surely uncovers the plans of a sinister multinational corporation, called Manchurian Global, to place a "sleeper" in the White House who will help them become one of the most powerful corporations in the world. Marco and his one-man wrecking crew set out to stop Manchurian Global before they destroy America and democracy as we know it.

The Manchurian Candidate has a lot going for it - a highly acclaimed director in Jonathan Demme ("The Silence of the Lambs", "Philadelphia"), Academy Award winners in Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep and a strong supporting cast in Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. Put all this with a decent story and you have the makings of a very good movie, which is how I would rate The Manchurian Candidate. I cannot say I was totally blown away by this movie, but I did enjoy the just over two hours that I spent in the theatre.

I will admit that the story could have used a little more originality. In the end, everything ended up being about money and that seemed like an old story being told again. If I really wanted to see a story about a bunch of rich people trying to stick someone in the White House to help the greedy bastards become even richer and more powerful, I could just watch Fahrenheit 9/11. That would be my major complaint about The Manchurian Candidate - the old story about money, although realistic, is just getting a tad wearisome. Can there not be another reason that people want to take over the world? I'm sure I could think of a few (How about controlling all the poon-tang in the world? How fun would that be?).

One other strange facet of the movie was how frightengly similar Meryl Streep's incentuous Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw looked like Hilary Rodham Clinton. It really was rather creepy. Something else that was creepy? If you think of it, check out Denzel's pinky finger on his right hand if you get a chance. You see it in a handful of scenes and man oh man is that finger screwed up. I was reading somewhere that he dislocated it playing basketball and never bothered getting it fixed. It is pretty gross.

In the end, The Manchurian Candidate is a good enough movie for me to recommend that you check it out sometime in the near future. Although it is not the be-all and end-all of conspiracy-type movies, it still boasts excellent performances by Denzel, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep and Jon Voight and excellent direction by Jonathan Demme. His story seems to jump around a bit and might be a tad confusing to some, but not to the point where you will get lost at any point during the movie. It is a solid, yet somewhat predictable effort and an enjoyable two hours but by no means is it landmark movie-making. I just wish they could have come up with something better than money, although when you think about it, isn't that what Hollywood is about nowadays?

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