Iíve never lost most so much goodwill towards a film, so quickly, as I did during the last half hour of The Contender. Writer-director Rod Lurie forgets heís writing a political drama, and adds more climaxes and stop-start endings than the average
action movie.American President Jackson Evansís (Jeff Bridges) term is almost over, and he needs a new Vice President. When he chooses Democrat Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen), Republican Senator Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman) leaks information about her sexual activities in college to prevent her appointment.
The script by Lurie is generally fast-paced and entertaining. We get a glossy, behind-the-scenes glimpse of White House politics and the shifting locus of power between senior politicians and the media. But Hanson and Runyon are too thinly sketched to be believable characters. Bridges gives the most memorable performance; his President is more than a political title, or a collection of empty precepts.Whatís most disappointing about The Contender is that Lurie betrays its strongest moral principle (that itís beneath Hansonís dignity to deny or admit the charges of sexual impropriety) in the movieís final minutes. [Stephen Groenewegen]