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The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Cast: Denzel Washington, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, more...
Director: Jonathan Demme, Jonathan Demme
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Rating:
Studio: Paramount
Genre: Political Thriller
Running Time: 129 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Synopsis
Jonathan Demme directed this updated remake of John Frankenheimer's 1962 cult favorite The Manchurian Candidate, a pioneering examination of political conspiracy and psychological reconditioning. Major Bennett Marco (Denzel Washington) and Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) are two soldiers who served in the same company during Operation Desert Storm, but their paths following their tours of duty have been very different. Shaw, the son of powerful congresswoman Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep), has used his reputation as a war hero to quickly scale the ladder of American politics, and with the help of his mother earns the Vice Presidential nomination. Marco, on the other hand, has been troubled with mental illness, and is convinced that something strange happened to him and his compatriots during the war. As Marco struggles to find the truth behind his nightmares and emotional torment, he unearths some disturbing facts about how his mind and body have been reworked by shadowy forces, as well as those of his fellow soldiers -- including Raymond Shaw. Featuring a stellar supporting cast (including Jon Voight, Miguel Ferrer, Ted Levine, and Dean Stockwell), The Manchurian Candidate credits George Axelrod's screenplay for the 1962 film as its source, as opposed to Richard Condon's 1959 novel from which Axelrod adapted his script. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Schlock by Texan99 September 5, 2010 - 1:30 PM PDT
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I don't understand how Mr. Demme, Mr. Washington, Mr. Schreiber, and Ms. Streep (all favorites of mine) could have gone so disastrously wrong with such a fine piece of source material. I can only think that a preoccupation with using the story to score a couple of banal contemporary political shots blinded the filmmakers to what made the 1962 original so shockingly entertaining. Frankenheimer and Condon were exploiting their audience's political preconceptions to vicious dramatic effect, while Demme and crew only seem to be pandering to commonplace notions -- and in so doing, they actually make the story drag. Rent the original instead. Even better, buy a copy of your own.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... by chocopups August 17, 2005 - 3:16 PM PDT
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0 out of 3 members found this review helpful
This is a decent effort by all involved, but it's undercut by the fact that we don't have to watch a movie to picture a lapdog of a global military contractor a heartbeat away from the presidency.

A Worthy Remake by talltale December 16, 2004 - 7:15 AM PST
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4 out of 6 members found this review helpful
Fans of the original MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE will find a lot of like in this updated version. There are enough subtle (and not so) changes to the story to keep you on your toes, and director Demme has shot through this remake with an even stronger sense of paranoia than the original (which had a lot more humor and off-the-wall charm, probably thanks to George Axelrod's script). No wonder so many characters react to Denzel Washington as though his character were a nut: He comes off like one for much of the movie. Cleverly, the film manages to counteract my own strongest objection to it (with all their power and control, the bad guys would have killed off Denzel as soon as he started making waves. Hmmm, maybe not). And, unless I missed something major, this update leaves the door ajar as to what REALLY happened--and why. You'll probably argue about this with your friends, and for good reason. Still, after viewing this state-of-the-art thriller I have to admit understanding why it was not a big hit (it did so-so at the American box-office and not much worldwide). It weaves into its plot a lot of references to our present situation (terror alerts, a rich and powerful worldwide company exerting behind-the-scenes control) that just plain make viewers feel too uncomfortable: post-election, with the release of the DVD, even more so than pre-, when the film was in movie theatres. This is not necessarily a negative judgment, but I believe it's the major reason the movie was not heartily embraced and recommended. Americans don't like what makes us feel uncomfortable--and even more paranoid than we already are. "The Parallax View" was not a big hit in its day, either.

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