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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.63%
Worth A Look49.02%
Average: 18.63%
Pretty Bad: 12.75%
Total Crap: 0.98%

8 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Manchurian Candidate, The (2004)
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by Brian McKay

"A sound candidate for the relief of Insomnia"
3 stars

The latest in a long line of remakes that simply did not need to be, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE is a film that boasts a talented director and cast, but one that plods along listlessly and fails to deliver any kind of surprise. Anyone who's seen the previews already knows what the major plot points are, and sadly, those details unfold in connect-the-dots fashion to their predictable conclusion

Denzel Washington plays Ben Marco, a former special forces operative who has had recurring nightmares about an ambush he and his men faced one night during Desert Storm. While his concious memories tell him that his fellow soldier Raymond Shaw (Liev Shreiber) saved him and the rest of their squad (earning the Medal of Honor in the aftermath), the events in his dreams don't jibe with his memories at all. When another surviving member of the squad approaches Marco with news of having the same dreams, only to be found dead shortly thereafter, Marco begins to investigate in earnest.

What he finds leads him back to Shaw, now a congressman who is vying to be the vice-presidential candidate - mostly at the insistence of his overbearing and controlling mother, Senator Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep). As it happens, Ms. Shaw has a controlling interest in the huge multinational conglomerate known as the Manchurian Group. Using a regimen of brainwashing and mind control through neural implants, the Manchurian group plans to put Raymond Shaw into a position where he can later become president - once his running mate has secured the election and then been removed from the picture.

The problem with The Manchurian Candidate isn't that it's poorly made, but just that it seems so dreadfully familiar and makes no attempt to try and shake that sense of familiarity. The first act takes too long to explain the obvious, the second act caught me napping as it continued to expound upon what should have already been obvious, and while the finale' picked up the pace a little bit, there was still not one shocking or surprising element to be found in the outcome.

While it tries to capitalize on our national fears of both terrorism and overzealous politicians with dangerous appetites for power, nearly every character here either becomes a caricature or a cipher. Shreiber probably bolsters the film with its strongest perormance, as the deeply conflicted mama's boy politician who struggles against the will of his secret handlers. Meanwhile, Denzel shuffles morosely through the all-too-familiar role of the haunted loner, while Streep proves once again just how overrated she really is by chewing through every bit of availiable scenery with all of the poise and subtlety of a hockey-masked Mcculloch-wielding Jethro.

(Screening provided courtesy of Loews San Francisco Metreon theater - you may not always like the movie, but at least you're guaranteed a good seat)

With such a paint-by-numbers screenplay and generally uninspired performances, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE is a disappointing and tepid entry from the man who brought us SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. While it's nowhere near horrible, it resides of the realm of the completely forgettable.

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originally posted: 08/02/04 11:49:25
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell a good remake imho 4 stars
4/04/12 Theodore Roosevelt How did they know in '04 that Rick Santorum would run for president in the near future? 3 stars
1/26/10 Jeff Wilder A fairly decent remake. Demme and cast make it work. 4 stars
7/22/08 the dork knight Pales in comparison to the first 2 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White not as good as the first but well crafted 3 stars
3/19/07 R.W.Welch Less plausible than the original with excessive mumbling. C+ 3 stars
1/31/07 action movie fan dull just like the first 2 stars
7/31/06 Scotty It was alright as a thriller, But I kept comparing it to the original. 3 stars
6/25/06 MP Bartley Good thriller. Keeps the attention if unlikely to linger long in the memory. 4 stars
3/11/06 Tanya Denzel is great as always 4 stars
1/16/06 Frank Rountree Well acted, interesting story 4 stars
11/15/05 noops just nothing special... 3 stars
8/12/05 yuko world peace...... 4 stars
4/18/05 Indrid Cold More sophisticated, but less intense than the original. 4 stars
2/17/05 Kathleen4691 Good adaptation of original, updated with new plot twists. 4 stars
2/15/05 Bobby da Squid Excellent acting saves the film from completely slipping into confusing paranoia 4 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Disappointing, didn't live up to the hype, never ties up loose ends. 2 stars
2/11/05 HL Thousands of Better Movies..Thousands Worse. 4 stars
2/05/05 LilyM Well acted, but that's it. Quite boring; it doesn't duplicate the suspense of the original. 2 stars
1/02/05 DM Not as good as the original, but still gripping. 4 stars
12/31/04 Tjalda L. Schiel Another worthless remake 2 stars
12/30/04 Katie Evridge very good thriller. Unexpected ride! 4 stars
12/28/04 efrain radical. 5 stars
11/23/04 alien assassin not as good as the original, but well worth seeing 4 stars
11/05/04 One more paranoid American “and all the while scarlet thoughts, putrid fantasies, and no love” --Louis Auchincloss 4 stars
10/29/04 John Bale Excellent and timely hi-tech remake which does credit to Condons novel. 5 stars
8/25/04 nick2k not bad...a lil slower pace than i expected though 4 stars
8/22/04 joepuzzle The Best Movie So Far of 2004, Truly an Awesome Accomplishment on Every Level 5 stars
8/20/04 Jiz Halliburton is controlling Dick Cheney through his "pacemaker." This movie proves it. 5 stars
8/14/04 psycho dwarf Although thought-provoking, it engenders more confusion than debate. 4 stars
8/14/04 Desperado very good, good drama should have been called the Halliburton Candidate 5 stars
8/14/04 Obi Wan Good movie, not great. Seemed a lil slow sometimes 4 stars
8/10/04 John Larson So so, not all that greta and a bit far fetched. Loses focus and a bit unconvincing. 2 stars
8/08/04 Charlie Have not seen the original but found this very good entertainment. 4 stars
8/06/04 Agent Sands Good credentials, but the original was a bit better. Good POV shots. 4 stars
8/05/04 Mix Master Mason Look for Robyn Hitchcock as a double agent, brilliant. 5 stars
8/03/04 Brad Good movie...but nothing too amazing 4 stars
8/03/04 Sen John Yerkis Iselin I have in my hand 57 reasons why this mess can't hold a candle to the original masterpiece. 1 stars
8/03/04 Betsy Poor imitation of the original, although I enjoyed Streep channelling Hillary 2 stars
8/03/04 Obi Wan Very good film, good performances all around..good ending 5 stars
8/02/04 Scott great acting, deus ex Machina ending too fake 3 stars
8/01/04 marvin naiman FASCINATION AND MIND BOGLING 5 stars
8/01/04 Jacobtwotwo Not as nuanced as the original creates same creepy foreboding mood though. 4 stars
8/01/04 M Vallee Excellent - from beginning until the end 5 stars
8/01/04 Ian Definitely a movie to go see with your mother. All BS aside, a twisted, yet intriguing flik 4 stars
8/01/04 BB Essential viewing, great performances by Liev and Denzel--do not miss this one! 5 stars
7/31/04 Uncle Phucker Best movie of the year so far besides Spartan. 4 stars
7/31/04 Titus Nicely done, but a little lacking in places. Don't think about it too closely. 4 stars
7/31/04 arctic Denzel and Meryl can do wrong when it comes to acting 5 stars
7/29/04 NiraliKumar Good version of the original 4 stars
7/28/04 Large Farve Loved it, good suspense. Continuity be damned! 5 stars
7/24/04 Koitus Interesting remake. Had quite a few "disconnects," though. Meryl rocked! 3 stars
7/24/04 Ray Strong and interesting 5 stars
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  30-Jul-2004 (R)
  DVD: 21-Dec-2004



Directed by
  Jonathan Demme

Written by
  Daniel Pyne

  Denzel Washington
  Meryl Streep
  Liev Schreiber
  Jon Voight
  Kimberly Elise
  Ted Levine

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