A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it stubbornly tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child, while also refusing to give up hope that she will find him one day.
When his army unit was ambushed during the first Gulf War, Sergeant Raymond Shaw saved his fellow soldiers just as his commanding officer, then-Captain Ben Marco, was knocked unconscious. Brokering the incident for political capital, Shaw eventually becomes a vice-presidential nominee, while Marco is haunted by dreams of what happened -- or didn't happen -- in Kuwait. As Marco (now a Major) investigates, the story begins to unravel, to the point where he questions if it happened at all. Is it possible the entire unit was kidnapped and brainwashed to believe Shaw is a war hero as part of a plot to seize the White House? Some very powerful people at Manchurian Global corporation appear desperate to stop him from finding out. Written by
Manchurian Candidate is far closer to the original than you've probably heard, and even though it's not the exact movie, it hardly could have been.
That the original is truly relevant would count little for modern audiences, who seem to have a hard time drawing parallels from anything out of their memory. One glimpse of black and white, and funky old clothes, and most teenyboppers under the age of thirty are out the door. Since they would only sit through a first run update, it's truly fine that they have one. The wonder is, the update stands up to the original.
It even solves some of the problems of the first. Gone are the vaguely foreign looking actors standing in for Russians and Chinese agents. Gone are the poorly choreographed ju-jitsu moves.
And the new film retains the strengths of the original. Every performance is fine. Liev Schrieber is worthy of Laurence Harvey's original gut kicking performance (though it's Harvey by an edge). Washington's craft is more than a match for Sinatra's unevenly inspired work. (One of the wonders of the first is realizing that Sinatra -could- act, that he did things with rhythm and cadence because those were his only tools, and it worked. He was no method actor, but damn.) Streep's scenery chewing is frankly, perfect, because unfortunately, really disgusting people actually do exist, and the real ones are impervious to the critique that their behavior is over-the-top. Seen or heard any Fox commentators recently? Streep's Senator may be over-the-top, but the only thing that distinguishes her from the real thing is - surprise - she's only acting.
Make no mistake, both these films are paranoid thrillers, and the overly literal would say of either, "preposterous". But then, the overly literal don't usually get much out of anything that isn't underlined in Business Week with a magic marker. So if you fit in that category, go rent something less threatening.
On the other hand, if you are the nervous type...
The film's style is less dialog laden, it runs more on mood. But it really does kick in all the same places, the same incredible cynicism offset by the thinnest sliver of a wild, earnest Patriotism.
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