The Manchurian Candidate (2004) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
299 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Attention Getter. Favorite Oldie
gamerchick-3718013 April 2019
15 years later, and I still LOVE this movie. My father made me watch it as a teen, and I actually liked it. I have a teen of my own now and I hope she too, will love it.
16 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Less powerful, less edgy, and less intelligent than the original.
ramirocardozo30 November 2004
Three months ago I watched the original Manchurian Candidate on DVD. I was amazed on how good this movie is, and how well it holds up after 42 years of its release in movie theaters.

So, yesterday when I watched the 2004 version directed by Jonathan Demme it was impossible for me not to compare the two films.

Without the existence of the original, Demme's effort could be defined as a good (not outstanding) political thriller and it's easy to think that this definition is compatible with the general opinion of today's audiences.

But (a big but) in reality there is an original, and it is so good, so brave, and so well written that this new version almost feels pointless.

In adapting the story to modern day Jonathan Demme made more wrong choices than good ones diminishing the power and intensity of the original.

This remake took out some key dramatic elements that work marvelously in the original film inserting some new and poorly written plot twists changing and damaging the dramatic resolution.

This version is inferior in almost every level (the only exception is the acting). It is less powerful, less edgy, and less intelligent.

Fortunately for Demme the original picture is not as well known as classics like 'Casablanca' and this will allow his film to find a moderate positive acceptance.
58 out of 76 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A touching movie experience
nti-547-7659739 May 2020
Not having seen the original, not knowing this is a remake, judging it on its merits alone I found it an extraordinary achievement in cinema. In terms of acting Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep knocked out of the park. They were all superb in their own right. The theme of bioengineering is so present nowadays, as we are pretty much on the verge of brain implants, that it shudders one to think this was in the books even 16 years ago. It makes the movie a cautionary tale of sorts, as it is not so removed from reality now as it might have seemed when it was launched. They deal beautifully with the theme of free will and the capacity humans have for overriding and overcoming their own brain chemistry. If the theme were different maybe it would have been just a good political thriller but seeing how we might soon all have a choice to make on receiving this kind of outside interference into our body, its relevance amplifies the movies quality as a whole making it a touching movie experience.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Meryl, you're no Angela Lansbury
jeffgramny17 August 2004
While the 2004 remake of "The Manchurian Candidate" is ensemble acting at its finest, Meryl Streep seems to be having a bit too much fun playing the villainess Eleanor Prentiss Shaw. She doesn't have the same blood-curdling constitution as did Angela Lansbury.

"What was I supposed to do, call a MEETING?" she exclaims as her wimpy male colleagues in the shadowy Manchurian Global upbraid her for ordering someone killed without consulting them. Problem is, she was radiantly glowing when she uttered the line, which produced laughs in the NYC theatre I was in.

When she showers Liev Schreiber with overly affectionate kisses and hugs, one again suspects Meryl was having a bit too much fun on camera with someone she finds quite attractive -- don't we all? -- in real life.

On its own, the 2004 remake is fine cinema. But the problem with all remakes is the inevitable comparison with original. And sadly, as much as I like the 2004 version, my vote goes with Angie Lansbury and Laurence Harvey.
35 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Fantastic remake with great acting
HotToastyRag30 April 2020
In the remake of the 1964 thriller, Denzel Washington takes on Frank Sinatra's role as a war veteran drawn into a political web of destruction. The setting is moved to the current time, so instead of being a Korean war veteran, Denzel fought in the Gulf War. His fellow soldier, Liev Schreiber, comes from a political background and is seen as a front-runner for the upcoming election, thanks to his pushy and powerful mother Meryl Streep. While in the original, Angela Lansbury controlled her son, Laurence Harvey, to help her husband's political career, the remake gets another modern touch: Meryl herself is a senator, rather than a housewife.

Meryl's performance in this movie is so chilling, it'll throw you for a greater loop than the story to find out she wasn't nominated for an Academy Award. Taking obvious inspiration from a certain powerful, ruthless female politician of the 1990s, Meryl embodies the bloodsucking, calculating, viscous character in her most realistic performance since The Bridges of Madison County.

The wonderful thing about this story is it's obviously timeless. It was just as relevant and engrossing in 1964 as it was in 2004, and if another remake would be made in 2024, it would be just as well-received. Political power struggle is an unending game, and if you combine a mystery in the movie plot and cast a bundle of powerhouse actors, you've got a guaranteed box office smash. If you've never seen either version, look at the cast list and decide which one you want to start with. They're both very good, suspenseful, and well-acted, but you can only watch it for the first time once. Choose wisely-or Meryl Streep will yell at you.

DLM Warning: If you suffer from vertigo or dizzy spells, like my mom does, this movie might not be your friend. During Denzel Washington's dreams, there are some zooms, swirls, and handheld camera movements that will make you sick. In other words, "Don't Look, Mom!"
11 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Don't Get Caught Up Making Comparisons!
Zen Bones25 August 2004
I have to admit, I was horrified to see that someone was remaking the 1964 near-masterpiece. I had no intention of seeing it, but then I happened to catch Demme and Washington on "Charlie Rose", and Demme put my mind to rest that he was not trying to remake the original picture. I was still skeptic, but I decided to have an open mind and check it out for myself. I'm glad I did.

The only thing this film has in common with the 1964 film is a political background, a domineering mother, and the brainwashing angle (which is done significantly differently here). This film is about what's happening now, and it's as gutsy as any film in today's political climate can possibly get. The story is told through the inflamed, paranoid POV of a Gulf War veteran who tries to unveil a plot between a corporate hierarchy (that's involved in the defense industries and medical technologies among other things) and certain politicians who want to stake their influence on a vice presidential nominee. This 'influence' is achieved through the brainwashing of the nominee as well as several soldiers who had been stationed with him in Kuwait.

Political machinery and defense industries have always been dangerous bedfellows, but when the politicians actually have worked in, and have personal interests in those industries, the motivations of such a partnership can be used to exploit the public in all sorts of ominous ways. This film brilliantly places the sort of paranoia that can derive from such precarious matches as a sign of our times. Consciously or subconsciously, conspiracies are on all of our minds. Today, because there is so much secrecy in the current administration, no one knows just how terrible OR innocent these guys might really be. And where there is secrecy, there will be conspiracy theories galore. Paranoia is so commonplace in such a society that it is technically very easy for plots and lies to thrive healthfully. We tell ourselves, "the government is honest and probably has good reasons to keep secrets from the public, so those who see plots and conspiracies must all simply be deluded and paranoid. Right?"

The fact is that politicians can easily lie, and the media, instead of demanding the truth, puts outrageous spins on those lies claiming to present them as 'facts'. This becomes an almost intolerable static that begins to blot out all meaning. One of the most ingenious things about this film is in its use of that kind of static. Throughout much of the film, there is a cacophony of radios and TV spewing out their obligatory spins simultaneously, as well as the nearly constant sounds of traffic and people talking over one another. The people in this movie can hear, but no one is listening. There's also a proverbial static between science and technology and the moral questions that remain elusive. The survivors of the brainwashing experiment mentioned above, have little chips implanted in their backs that somehow aid the brainwashers. The chips could be some sort of homing device, or perhaps some sort of hormone moderator that's supposed to keep the men in the mental state that makes them more easily susceptible to hypnotic suggestion. Well, chips that can serve as homing devices, or that can regulate hormones and amino acids such as tryptophan, are in the experimental phase today. In other words, this isn't way-out science fiction here!

Okay, I know I'm sounding like I'm paranoid and that I'm saying that everything in this film can and will happen. Don't worry, I know this is just a movie and that the events depicted in it are EXTREMELY unlikely to ever take place. What I'm focusing on is how well the film takes themes, facts and situations that are topical and at least emotionally legitimate, and presents them in the context of a whopper of a good thriller. The film is fresh and audacious and honest in all of its approaches, with the one exception of Meryl Streep who seems to think she's in a Bette Davis movie. In the original "Manchurian Candidate" Angela Lansbury played her role, and she was appropriately icy, deliberate, and almost iconic in the way she carried her power. For some reason Streep tried to go to self-consciously comic proportions (you can almost see her winking at the audience saying "don't you just LOVE how bad I am?"). The rest of the performances however, are appropriately sober and solid. I never caught Washington acting, and Schrieber is masterful in the way he consolidates the conscious and subconscious friction of his character's agony into an invisible but palpable tension. The score by Rachel Portman is eerily reminiscent of Howard Shore's score for "Silence of the Lambs", and just as exciting and effective. And I can't help but thrill over Wyclef Jean's fantastic rendition of the CCR song "Fortunate One": a version as appropriate to this decade as the original version was to the late sixties (check out the lyrics: replace 'senator's son' with 'president's' son, and see if George W. Bush doesn't come to mind!).

Finally, is this film as good as the original version? They're so different I honestly can't compare. I can only say that this film is as appropriate to the political and sociological climate of today as the original was to its day. Don't forget both versions were based on a novel, so comparisons should be made in that context more than anything else (I haven't read the book so I can't comment on that). There are some loopholes in the current film's plot, and I do love the cinematic style of the original film more than this one. But as I was only a kid when the first film came out, this film has a slightly stronger emotional impression on me than the other one. I only hope all it stays science fiction!
92 out of 153 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Solid, Topical and Worthy of the Original
sinuous1 August 2004
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.
51 out of 86 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Manchurian Update
jon.h.ochiai6 September 2004
I have not seen the original John Frankenheimer's "The Manchurian Candidate", which is considered one of the best political thrillers ever made. So it was curious that Jonathan Demme (a great director whose previous work included "The Silence of the Lambs") chose to remake the "The Manchurian Candidate". Still basing the story on the novel by Richard Condon, and the 1962 screenplay by George Axelrod, screen writers Daniel Pyne and Dean Georgaris have updated the Cold War political thriller to the global nuclear terrorism threat on our homeland, and introducing the clandestine presence of a ubiquitous corporation like Manchurian Global. Demme along with reinventing a contemporary storyline, assembled a powerful cast, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, and Liev Schreiber. Streep as Senator Eleanor Shaw, the mother of Vice Presidential candidate, Raymond Shaw (Schreiber), is absolutely powerful and compelling. She is playing against type-- her Eleanor Shaw is a Machiavellian Lady MacBeth. She is ruthless and smart. Streep's performance is awesome.

During the Gulf War Sgt. Raymond Shaw (Schreiber) saved his fellow soldiers when his CO, Maj. Ben Marco (Washington) is knocked unconscious. Shaw receives the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery. Back to the present day, Eleanor Shaw (Streep) imposes her sheer will and brokers the Vice Presidential slot for her son, the War Hero, on her Party's ticket. Eleanor has political ties with the very powerful Manchurian Global corporation. Meanwhile, Maj. Marco is plagued by incoherent memories of what happened in Iraq. Were his memories actually manufactured? His investigation seems to point to brainwashing and a conspiracy. And what is the ultimate goal?

Demme is a good storyteller. He keeps the story taut and paced. He also enlists effective performances from his talented cast. Denzel Washington is good as Marco. He is also playing somewhat against type. His Major Marco is a broken man regaining some of his honor, and he plays it very close to the vest. Marco is a not a charismatic character, but Washington imposes his own force on the character. Schreiber is amazing as Raymond Shaw. Outwardly, he might have played a puppet in an elaborate power play; however, he gives Shaw a strength of character that is riveting with internal conflict. Meryl Streep really steals the movie as Eleanor Shaw. Her performance is so commanding. Even in her ruthlessness and singularity, she can not be dismissed as plain evil, because ultimately her intentions are noble. That conflict embodied in her character makes "The Manchurian Candidate" worth watching.
65 out of 116 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Better than most remakes, but not as compelling as the original
anhedonia2 August 2004
Here's something I never thought I'd say: I enjoyed parts of "The Manchurian Candidate" remake; it isn't as bad as I expected it to be.

And much of the credit goes to the three main players - Denzel Washington as the paranoid veteran, Liev Schreiber as the titular character and Meryl Streep as the power-hungry, Oedipally motivated Senator Eleanor Shaw.

Screenwriters Daniel Pyne and Dean Georgaris reinvent and contemporize Richard Condon's novel and the 1962 film. While John Frankenheimer's film, written by George Axelrod, was the apotheosis of the Cold War thriller and a scathing indictment of McCarthyism, Jonathan Demme's remake is less subtle in its approach and paranoia, but takes barbed jabs at current politics, the corruptibility of our elected leaders and paranoia disguised as patriotism in a post-9/11 America.

The remake also owes a debt of gratitude to Alan J. Pakula's brilliant 1974 paranoia-conspiracy thriller, "The Parallax View."

Although it isn't clear whether Raymond Shaw is a Republican or Democrat - his mother certainly seems more Republican in her outlook and politics - Demme and his writers' point is that all American politicians are bought and paid for by big business. As we all know, we never heeded President Eisenhower's prescient caution about the military industrial complex.

The villainous Manchurian Global clearly was inspired by Halliburton - there's even mention of the company getting no-bid contracts. Pay close attention and you'll hear pointed references about the use of private contractors by the military, malfunctioning touch-screen voting machines and our government's "compassionate vigilance." Also, look fast and you'll see a news crawl about a Wal-Mart-type chain and a newspaper story about our treatment of Muslims.

Washington's awfully convincing as a man fraying at the edges, whose grip on reality seems to be slowly slipping, and there were a few moments where Schreiber almost reminded me of Laurence Harvey.

Streep, on the other hand, proves why she is undoubtedly the best actress this nation has ever produced. Her Eleanor spits venom. We're utterly convinced why Raymond's such a cuckold. We can only imagine what his poor father must have endured. Streep occasionally comes close to being campy, but so completely dominates the screen that she scares us even when she chews ice.

But several other talented actors, including Jon Voight, Vera Farmiga, Dean Stockwell and Ted Levine, are used to little or no effect.

Some crucial plot elements make no sense. The Dr. Noyle scenario, for instance, proves to be illogical, especially when we learn more about him. Neither Pyne nor Georgaris attempted to rectify this deficiency. Also, the mysterious Muslim women are superfluous. I wonder if their bit wound up on the cutting-room floor.

The film contains an unmistakable cynical tone. As much as it's clearly an indictment of big business' control of politics, it also denounces our leaders' insistence on keeping the public on edge with terror alerts. And as Senator Shaw points out, "The assassin always dies. It's necessary for the national healing."

But after maintaining its cynicism for much of the film, it comes apart completely at the end. Demme and his writers cop out with a pointless and weak denouement. That gunshot you hear is Demme shooting himself in the foot.

It's almost as if they gave in to appease some mindless preview audience or dimwitted studio hack. Or, maybe they envisioned it just like this. Given my admiration of Demme, I'd like to think otherwise. Hope I'm right.
90 out of 168 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Limp and lackluster
rogerdarlington22 November 2004
The 1962 version of "The Manchurian Candidate" - starring Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Harvey - caught the conspiratorial mood of the time when so many Americans saw a commie round every corner. The current 'war of terror' might have seemed like an apposite time to attempt a remake. I've been a fan of Denzel Washington since he played Steve Biko in "Cry, Freedom" and I regard Meryl Street as the finest actress of her generation, so the chance to see the two starring together for the first time was an attractive one. Since I'm a political animal, the vehicle of a political thriller appeared to add to the attraction. But Jonathan Demme's remake of John Frankenheimer's classic, although it has a certain style, is overall a real disappointment. Frankly it is lackluster when it is not simply silly.

Streep gives a bravado performance as the manipulative mother of the Vice-Presidential candidate who is under external control and Washington is always watchable, but Liev Schreiber as the brain-drilled war hero and politician is robotic even when he is not 'activated'. The 'up-dating' of the story to make corporations rather than Communists the enemy is a well-worn theme, ranging from the Peter Sellers' movie "Being There" to the more recent television series "24". What this new version of Richard Condon's 1959 novel tells us is that Americans are no less fearful and paranoid than they were in the Cold War and Hollywood is no better at remakes than it ever was.
42 out of 74 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Senator Streep
filmquestint24 March 2005
The one and only reason to see this new and much weaker Manchurian Candidate is Meryl Streep. The little space allocated to her character makes the film rise to undeserving levels. True, I would pay to see Meryl Streep do the weather but that's quite besides the point. Even so, the memory of Angela Lansbury's performance in the role towers over Meryl Streep's, mostly because the original Frankenheimer's Manchurian Candidte towers over Demme's. What a silly idea, really. To update the story doesn't contribute a thing to the results. No matter how many monitor screens and details about the experiment we're let into. We, quite simply, don't care. We care about the drama of that mother and son. Of the soldier's and their nightmares. But those elements are treated in a sketchy, sluggish way. Frank Sinatra gave a sterling performance in the original and we believed in his torment. Here Denzel Washington floats throughout the film without giving us the chance to connect the dots of his journey. Liev Schriver is a credible Raymond Shaw but the script doesn't help him to go where Laurence Harvey had ventured. After "The Truth About Charlie" I was fearful of what Jonathan Demme (the great man behind "Silence of the Lambs") would do with this classic black comedy but I went to see it anyway, because Meryl Streep was in it and because it was Demme again working with Dean Stockwell after that lovely romp they did together "Married to the Mob" but Stockell's work in Manchurian Candidate, how can I put it? If you blink you miss it. How strange. How disappointing. However, the scenes with Senator Meryl Streep are worth the price of admission.
111 out of 215 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Political thriller with memorable performances , intrigue , thrills and well realized by Jonathan Demme
ma-cortes11 December 2011
Thrilling and chilling film deals with Major Ben Marco (Denzel Washington) , an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army. He served valiantly as a captain in the Kuwait war and his Sergeant, Raymond Shaw, even won the Medal of Honor. Marco has a major problem however, he has a recurring nightmare, one where two members of his squad are killed by Shaw. Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiver) is an insufferable man, who came back from the Irak War awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor . Shaw for his part eventually becomes a vice-presidential nominee and has established himself well, despite the misgivings of his domineering mother, Mrs. Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep). Ben Marco has been having nightmares that lead him to believe that the circumstances that led to Raymond getting the medal are not true. However, Marco learns that another soldier (Jeffrey Wright) from the platoon , has had the same nightmare .While his superiors don't think he knows what he is talking about, he is sent on leave . When he goes to see Raymond, he is arrested ,he aware that also has the same dream. When the officers learn of this they decide to give him a chance to find out what's going on . Some very powerful people at Manchurian Global corporation appear desperate to stop him from finding out. Ben Marco have to face off an enemy with even more sinister designs .

Bold political thriller about the mind control of the prisoners Americans in the Irak War dealing with experiments applied to soldiers to modify behavior patterns. Top-notch acting from main cast as Denzel Washington who gives a superbly controlled interpretation as an Irak war veteran who begins to believe that the honored heroics of a former member of his squad may be the product of brainwashing . Furthermore , Liev Schreiver , Kimberly Elise , Jeffrey Wright and John Voight ; mention special to Meryl Streep as mean mother who executes nasty machinations to promote her son's career , she has some moments of real brilliance . The picture packs thrills , suspense , action , intrigue and is quite entertaining . With an excellent script based on a novel by Richard Condon and George Axelrod 1962 screenplay adapted by Daniel Pyne ; it has a splendid narrative rhythm , the film raises a disturbing theory well performed and slickly developed . The movie that leaves you feeling of having a good cinema. The motion picture is compellingly directed by Jonathan Demme ( Silence of the lambs , Philadelphia , Some wild ) . This exciting political paranoia thriller will appeal to Denzel Washington fans .

This interesting film results to be a remake from "The Manchurian Candidate" 1962, with Laurence Harvey as Raymond Shaw , Angela Lansbury as ambitious mother and Frank Sinatra that only a year later surprised with the the death of President Kennedy , directed John Frankenheimer a producer for its realization, appeared excited Frank Sinatra with a script of "The Manchurian Candidate," which could have a role as an officer of the bunch of prisoners Americans, Sinatra was formed as co-producer and introduced the idea before the president of "United Artists" , this film was rereleased theatrically in 1987.
23 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Nice Running-Mate to the Original "Candidate"
Placemat2 January 2005
After achieving only so-so results in reworking an old classic with the timid "The Truth About Charlie," director Jonathan Demme confidently updates "The Manchurian Candidate." Here he prevents the viewer from being distracted into keeping active count of the differences between his film and the original; the viewer can relax and watch an "original" film from the beginning. Demme immediately establishes his own distinctive approach: Bring characterization to the foreground. The original was compelling mainly due to its novel and intricate plot, but the acting was no-frills. Demme and his actors -- Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber (and even minor players like Jeffrey Wright) -- create characters that are fleshed-out and human. They are far from the chess pieces of the original and thus better draw us into the film, offering the viewer an emotional entry point and a rooting human interest from beginning to end. While not superior to the original -- conspiracies in of themselves simply have lost their ability to shock these days -- the new "Candidate" achieves its own success by being a rare thriller: one that is emotionally moving.
70 out of 133 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
=G=24 December 2004
"The Manchurian Candidate (2004)" is a par knock-off of the 1962 classic adapted from the same novel with the usual upgrades and contemporary tweaks. Sporting a good cast and a somewhat cluttered screenplay, the film tells of the plight of a Desert Storm vet (Washington) whose dreams tell a story of what happened to his platoon in Kuwait quite different from the historical account of record with ramifications reaching deep into a U.S. presidential election. A little bulky at two hours, this suspense/drama flick waxes in convolutions and intrigues all the while dangling the "dreams or reality?" question before the audience. With par murmurs from critical corners and mixed commentary from the public in general, this three star flick is probably worth a look for fans of the players or anyone into political thrillers, etc. (B)
47 out of 86 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Even Creepier Than the Original
Sargebri7 August 2004
The original version of this film was a very disturbing film due to the fact that it was at the height of the cold war and that it was during the time when America and the world faced its greatest crisis in the Cuban Missile Crisis and due to the fact that one short year after the original was released, President Kennedy was assassinated.

The main difference between this film and the original was that the original villains were the Communists and the villains in this film is big business. The Manchurian Corporation pretty much could be seen as stand-ins for not only Halleburton, but also could be seen as a stand in for many other corporate entities that pretty much want to wield influence in our government.

Another way this film works is as a strong psychological thriller. You pretty much have the troops brainwashed much as they were in the original, only it is more technologically based. However, the thing that really made this film as creepy as it was, was the relationship between Raymond and his mother. In the original, Raymond's mother was nothing more than a manipulative harpy who would stop at nothing to make sure she and her husband became the next president. However, in this version the film goes even farther by even implying that Mrs. Shaw (Mrs. Iselin in the original) almost has an incestuous obsession with her son. This is what really distinguishes this film from the original.

This definitely is one of top thrillers of the year.
31 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Never a dull moment
fuzzypeace28 December 2004
This movie is an excellent choice if you enjoy a well-acted, well-directed mystery/thriller story. I found myself thoroughly engaged and not once did my attention waver. Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep are all excellently cast. Their acting is flawless.

The title, The Manchurian Candidate, is puzzling for much of the movie then begins to become clearer as the story unfolds. The setting is 2004 and the plot involves not only consequences of the 1991 Gulf War but the political arena as well. It is especially interesting in the post 9-11 era in which we live.

Just remember, it's only fiction....or is it?
20 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
iohefy-226 July 2004
Being old enough to remember the original version of The Manchurian Candidate, I found that is was on a par with the original, as far as the acting was concerned. Liev was very good in the part, as well as Meryl Streep, and I like Denzel in most any film he is in. I did find that I liked the original screen play better, as this one seemed to inject the latest in mind rendering features. My recommendation is to go see this one for a very good story. and some great acting. I think that this will be this weeks blockbuster!!!!!
17 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Stylishly shot and decently acted but dull and convoluted
TheLittleSongbird31 December 2010
In brief comparison, I adore the 1962 film and consider it one of the best of the 60s. This remake is far from the worst remake in existence(the remake to Psycho should never have been made) plus it does have its good points. The film is well made with stylish cinematography and striking locations. The acting is above decent, Denzel Washington does well filling Frank Sinatra's shoes, Liev Schreiber literally sinks his teeth into his role and Meryl Streep does make an impression as Schreiber's unscrupulous mother. The film does also try hard to evoke a chilling atmosphere and does succeed at times. However, Jonathan Demme's direction lacks subtlety and control. Also the script is pretty weak coming across as hackneyed, the story is extremely complex and too convoluted and the film drags making the (just over) 2 hour film rather dull. All in all, not bad but disappointing. 5/10 Bethany Cox
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Boy! Here I thought the The Village was bad....
aeo4 August 2004 is not that bad as The Village but it is close. Why they had to try to remake a classic and a great movie as the Manchurian Candidate is beyond me. First of all, to those people who approved the making of this movie---should be fired! Second, if you are going to remake a classic, at least change the title if it is not going to be relevant in the movie. For instance, the title of the movie is "Manchurian" in the original movie because a group of US soldiers were captured by the North Koreans during the Korean War. In this remake, they are in the Gulf War in Kuwait. They should have changed the title to the Kuwaiti Candidate instead. Third, the enemy in the original was the "evil empire," the communist countries of the world. The enemy in this remake is a multinational corporation. A corporation?! If you were a story writer and you had to create a villain, and your choice is the Soviet Union or a corporation, which would you choose? Soviet Union of course! Fourth, the late Katherine Hepburn did not like Meryl Streep's acting and I certainly concur. She is too melodramatic and overacts her scenes. Maybe it is her theater background that is causing it but she is clearly annoying in this picture. Fifth, the story is just plain boring. The original movie drew you into the story and made you care about the characters. In this movie, I felt absolutely no connection to the story or the characters. Lastly, compare to the overall performance of the actors and actresses in the remake as oppose to the original---the original without a doubt has the better overall performance.

SAVE YOUR MONEY AND GO TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD VIDEO OR DVD STORE AND RENT THE ORIGINAL. You will not regret it. If you still want to see this remake even after what I wrote, then please go see the original afterward because you will see how great the original was than this piece of garbage.
13 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Save Your Money and Rent the Original
SandyZ713 November 2004
After reading good reviews I was expecting something other than this totally awful movie. The dark menacing atmosphere of the 1962 film with Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury remains

one of the best political thrillers reinforced by superb acting and the use of black and white photography.

The remake has lifeless muddled performances. Streep did not come across as believable and lacked the delightful viciousness portrayed by Lansbury. Washington provides a weak DeMarco versus one of Sinatra's best roles.

The so-called plot is completely unbelievable - Did they think they were doing a "Matrix" or a "Zombie" Film?

There are so many holes it looked like Swiss Cheese. Save your money and rent a DVD of the original.
23 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Politics as Usual.
rmax3048236 December 2005
Richard Condon's novel has its infelicities. The author can suddenly lapse into baby talk. ("Raymond was his mamma's widdle boy.") But he packed his novel with jokes too and was in many ways pretty funny.

The 1962 version followed the novel rather closely and kept its plot clear and no more cluttered than necessary to its comprehension.

This version is longer than the original and is a considerable departure from Condon's story. Gone is the Cold War background, which is too bad because it contained a neat twist. The Commies are going to take over the country by posing as super-patriotic Right Wingers. Well, that's out now. The title no longer refers to a place but to a corporation -- "Manchurian Global" -- and the corporation is all evil and lacks cleverness. The values they espouse sound like they came out of Reader's Digest. "A grandmother shouldn't have to choose between paying for her medicine and paying for her dinner." Platitudes float around during interviews like neon-blue balloons at a political convention. They could have come directly from recent speeches by one of our leading politicians who once announced: "This is a nation that loves its freedom. Loves its country." I kind of miss the irony of the original story.

Something else too. I followed the novel easily. I also followed the 1962 version with no problem. A squad of American troops are led astray by their Korean interpreter, are captured by the Chinese, and taken to Manchuria where for three days their brains are not merely washed but dry cleaned. Especially Raymond Shaw (Lawrence Harvey in 1962) who is given the treatment full blast and planted as an assassin mole in the U. S. The other men in the unit are a bit less warped and the brain washing memory is not quite obliterated. It expresses itself in nightmares. Finally, Major Ben Marco (Frank Sinatra) figures out what's going on and foils the Commies' plot by undoing the rewired brain of Raymond Shaw.

In this version, the brainwashing is done away with and replaced by high-tech devices that we cannot understand. And instead of getting the deluxe brainwashing treatment, Raymond Shaw (Schreiber) has a chip implanted in his brain, along with another in his shoulder. Evidently the other surviving members of his squad also have chips in their shoulders but not in their heads. Or so I thought.

Throughout, Raymond is the only one who seems programmed to respond to commands after hearing a verbal trigger which puts him into a compliant trance state. But somewhere along the way Major Marco (Washington) may have acquired one too because near the end he too responds to the trigger phrase. I missed the first few minutes and that may account for my confusion.

Still, this version, while enjoyable on its own, isn't up to the original. It's in color and it's louder and it's bloodier but it lacks the cohesiveness of the 1962 version. I don't want to give too many examples, but take the relationship between Raymond and Jocie, the girl friend he is forced to murder. In the original, he is an arrogant skunk, but she is the love of his life -- the only love he is capable of because he's been warped by smotherly love -- and Jocie adores Raymond. She humanizes him. They are married and shortly he shoots her.

In this version -- and I have no idea why this change was made -- Raymond once dated Jocie and still has a crush on her 15 years later but she is dismissive of their earlier relationship and more or less tells him to get it behind him. So when he is forced to murder her, it is not a tragedy, not the death of the only thing he has ever loved enough to be human with, but rather an unfortunate accident. You know -- "too bad".

Likewise this version compares unfavorably to the original with respect to the character of Major Marco -- Sinatra there, Washington here. Sinatra was never a bravura actor but he does a good job of conveying Marco's steady decline into neurological shambles because of his recurring nightmares. He drinks, he sweats, he shakes, he reads -- he reads everything. He has a friend in San Francisco who ships him books by the pound, picked at random. Everything from "Diseases of Horses" through "Principles of Modern Banking" to "Ethnic Choices of the Arabs." The scene on the train in which Sinatra meets Janet Leigh while he disintegrates under her intense and curious stare (he fumbles a cigarette and it plops into his drink) is memorable, as is the elliptical conversation which follows.

In this version, Washington is seated on a train and a young woman across from him strikes up a perfectly normal conversation. In the middle of it, he excuses himself, gets up and goes to the men's room and vomits. That's it. It's bland and unimaginative. Washington is a fine actor but he does not "do" an anxiety attack very well, possibly because the script gives him no chance.

The script leaves out other incidents that are hardly unimportant ones. In the original (1962, mind you) the incestuous relationship between Raymond and his mother is made explicit. Angela Lansbury as the mother (who was in reality about Harvey's own age) plants a big smooch on him before the fade. Here, the corresponding scene ends with Meryl Streep staring with what appears to be an expression of concern up at Liev Schreiber's hypnotized face. It's an added dramatic thread in the story that the new version more or less ignores.

I won't go on about it. This version is pretty good, but it does lack the irony, humor, and utter quirkiness of the novel and the 1962 movie.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Weak Remake w/ Extra Strength Propaganda
arthur-imdb24 December 2004
Like so many remakes this "hack" director can't seem to keep true to the original story. If your going to almost totally rewrite the story don't remake the film, make your own or at the very minimum don't steal the title of a classic.

As for the merits of the movie as an original offering, in a word weak. There was a no real suspense... Plot holes, incompetent characters and ineffective attempts to steer the viewer away from figuring out the ending. But on the plus side I thought the acting was very good.

I am not sure what the message of movie was... It changed drastically and was incoherent. To even explore this would take thousands of words, so I will not..

There is one particularly creepy scene with Meryl Streep that seemed to have been edited short. It would have made me much happier if they would have shaved a few more seconds off.

You will be hard pressed to find more than a few minutes of propaganda free film. I can understand if it helps the story but it does not. I am not sure if the director even believes the movie going public will notice it. It was blatant, but I felt like the arrogant director thought he could pull a fast one on me. It was like seeing the product placements for Pepsi on an episode of Friends. Am I supposed to be too stupid to notice or should I just allow myself to be subliminally influenced?

This movie was not Catwoman so I had to give it at least a 2!!!
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A brilliant update of a brilliant movie
teresaleej1 August 2004
Set against the Cold War and our fear of Communist infiltration, the original Manchurian Candidate(1963) revealed a significant universal theme: the misuse of power through the exploitation of paranoia and allegiance. The same theme, unfortunately, rings just as true today. Yes, the Berlin Wall has crumbled, but now we are a nation frozen with the fear of terrorist infiltration, vulnerable to the misuse of corporate and governmental powers.

The writers made believable, relevant changes to every aspect of the original story that would seem dated today, including the role of women. Rather than Janet Leigh's thankless role of arbitrary girlfriend, her counterpart in this movie is an FBI agent, as strong and significant as any of the men in the film. In the original, Raymond's mother (Angela Lansbury) worked through her husband, (how else could a woman have access to power in 1963?) Meryl Streep's Mother Shaw doesn't need to work through her man; she has direct power as a vicious, Machiavelian senator. Viewers who remember the original may pine for the chill they felt watching Lansbury's portrayal; the concept of a woman who seeks and controls power is just not shocking today. However, Streep is amazing, and I guarantee one scene between her and Shaw will raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Mind control is made more relevant in the newer version as it is linked to "bad science," a current fear in an age of cloning, and genetic engineering.

However, the movie is still a psychological thriller and the manipulation of good men through fear and misplaced allegiance (especially to dear old mom) is as chilling as in the original.

Both movies are a cry to each of us to take control of our lives, our decisions, our futures. The hero as independent thinker runs true in both movies, spelled out in no uncertain terms in Marco (Denzel Washington's) last inner monologue about the Congressional Medal of Honor. The audience realizes as does Marco, the legitimacy of the medal in question, and exactly what it means to be a hero.
9 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Prefer the Classic – Jonathan Demme Prefers to Follow the Easiest Way Trying to Reach Success
claudio_carvalho12 October 2005
John Frankenheimer's "The Manchurian Candidate" is certainly among the best movies of the cinema history, inclusive is rated in IMDb top 250 as #75. This remake is not totally bad, but why remakes such a classic? It seems that former great director Jonathan Demme presently prefers to follow the easiest way trying to reach success instead of risking, but with terrible results. In 2002, he made an awful and ridiculous version of "Charade" with the mediocre "The Truth About Charlie". In 2004, he decided to insult John Frankenheimer with this complicated and totally absurd and unbelievable version of the classic. My vote is six just because I am a great fan of Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.

Title (Brazil): "Sob o Domínio do Mal" ("Under the Domination of the Evil")
12 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
chricoo23 July 2004
It is a sad, but well known that movies these days are generally getting worse and worse. Or maybe not; maybe we've just seen it all before. Anyway, no matter how you look at it, Manchurian Candidate was the first truly, good movie I'd seen in a long, long time. I don't feel like writing about it just now, but I must ask one question.

I was checking the movie out on IMDb, and then, suddenly... WTF?! It's rated 1,4? Seldon have I been this surprised. What is the world coming to? A total disaster. Who are these 16 people who are trying to kill this masterpiece? But it doesn't matter. Just don't let them fool YOU. The Manchurian Candidate is brilliance and must be seen!
8 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed