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A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
Stephen Meyers is a young idealist who's brilliant at communications, is second in command of Governor Mike Morris's presidential campaign, and is a true believer. In the middle of the Ohio primary, the campaign manager of Morris's opponent asks Meyers to meet; he offers him a job. At the same time, Morris's negotiations for the endorsement of the man in third place, a North Carolina Senator, hit a snag. A young campaign intern, Molly Stearns, gets Stephen's romantic attention. Republicans have a trick up their sleeve; Stephen may be too trusting, and Molly has a secret. What's most important, career, victory, or virtue? Written by
Very professional but doesn't have the sharpness or intelligence it suggests it does
You came here from the trailers and the clever poster campaign? Or maybe you came here because you love Clooney and the idea of him doing a political film appeals to you because you agree with much of what he puts his name behind? Or maybe you just decided to watch on a whim? Well for me it was the first two that put it in my mind but the third that saw me pick this from the queue recently. The publicity leave you in little doubt that this is a smart political movie while the names involved all point to something that is worth your time, expensive and very professionally put together. In terms of these latter qualities the film does deliver but it is just a shame that it is not as good as it looks in regards the former.
Let's deal with the superficial first. The film looks great and Clooney deserves credit for the job he has done here as it has a real sheen to it with really well designed shots and a real richness to the look (credit to the cinematographer of course). On top of this the score is just right a little generic in its tone perhaps but it works and fits the film well. Naturally the cast features a collection of names and faces for whom quality is the norm and generally the film looks and feels like it is a really good product. The only place where it falls down is that it isn't quite as smart as it thinks it is. The story is fairly straightforward and the "message" (if that is the word) is equally simple; this puts a lot of pressure on the lead character of Meyers to be engaging and thrilling in his journey into the murky compromises and twists of politics and this is the problem, it doesn't come over that way.
The solid plot holds the attention and the sleek presentation feels like velvet throughout but the real meat of the story here needs to come through Meyers and sadly the material just doesn't make this happen. In terms of narrative he has it, but in terms of heart and soul of the man, it is lacking and as a result the film is lacking. It shows in Gosling's performance; he is a good presence, easy to look at and follow but he doesn't have enough within him to lift the film. I watched A Single Man the other day, in which Colin Firth delivered a great and nuanced performance that carried that entire film this needed Gosling to do that, but he didn't and/or couldn't with what he was given. Clooney is good in an easier role as are Hoffman, Giamatti, Tomei, Wright and others but they are the dressing around Gosling's character and as good as they look, they cannot hide the fact that the centrepiece just isn't as good as the trimmings suggest.
It isn't a bad film, indeed I quite enjoyed it as it went along, but it is a lot less satisfying than it looks like it will be. Really professional and polished but the heart of the message doesn't come out and the central character doesn't deliver as they should. Solid, but neither as sharp or as smart as it thinks it is or as it should have been.
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