The Manchurian Candidate

Released 2004


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Movie Summary

Jonathan Demme
The Manchurian Candidate stars Academy Award winner Denzel Washington as Captain Ben Marco, a veteran of the first Gulf War. Marco's (Washington) unit gained some fame during the war when the actions of one brave soldier, Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), saved the unit from a violent ambush. After the war, Shaw transitioned into politics, following in the footsteps of his mother, Senator Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep). The war hero is now the vice-presidential nominee, while Ben Marco returned from the war a very different man, haunted by strange dreams of the attack. Marco is visited by Corporal Al Melvin (Jeffrey Wright), who tells him he's also having strange dreams of the unit in a warehouse. Both men were knocked unconscious during the attack and only know what they have been told about Shaw's heroism in rescuing his unit. Is it possible the attack never even happened? Could the entire unit have been brainwashed? Meryl Streep gives one of the finest performances of her career in this film and was nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Supporting Actress category.moreless


Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

    The strength of sensational material joined to excellent acting, superior filmmaking and uncanny political relevance has made The Manchurian Candidate into exceptionally intelligen...

  • 90

    The New York Times Dana Stevens

    A political thriller that manages to be at once silly and clever, buoyantly satirical and sneakily disturbing, but he (Demme) has recovered some of the lightness and sureness of to...

  • 90

    Variety Todd McCarthy

    Structurally and thematically similar to John Frankenheimer's original but entirely different in style, feel and nuance, this political thriller about a brainwashed soldier being p...

  • The Ultimate Movie Review! -- @tss5078

    The remake of The Manchurian Candidate is one of the few Denzel Washington films I've never seen. To be honest, the story just didn't interest me that much, but it started streaming this month, so I gave it a shot. As expected, it's a someone complex story, that at times was difficult to understand, however an all-star cast manages to pull it together at the end. The story begins in Iraq during the Gulf War, when a . Army platoon goes missing for three days. Even they were unaware of what happened to them, until one of the men starts having nightmares, and bodies start turning up. Denzel Washington plays the commanding officer, who takes it upon himself to investigate the strange deaths of his men, almost a decade later. As always, Washington is at the top of his game, giving off that infectious intensity, that keeps you on the edge of your seat through every step of the investigation. Washington is paired with Liev Schreiber who is one guy that has always just rubbed me the wrong way. It's not that he's a bad actor, there is just something about him and the characters he plays that is inherently unlikeable. He wasn't bad in this film, but being a similarly intense actor, meant that the chemistry with Washington was almost non-existent. The story is complicated and in the beginning of the film, it's going to be somewhat hard to watch. As the film proceeds and the elements become more clear, the film gets easier to watch, and the ending really pulls everything together. The Manchurian Candidate is one of those films that you think is going to be a bust, some people may even turn it off, but those who stick with it will see that it just gets better and better until a surprise ending brings it all together. If I were the writer of this film, I would have made the beginning of the film more intense and less confusing. The truth is the most important parts of a film are the beginning and the end, and without a strong opening, a lot of people will be turned off to the film and have the wrong attitude throughout. If you manage to stick with it, The Manchurian Candidate is great, but it does take a while to get there.moreless

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cult brainwashing, corrupt politics, corporate secrets, assassination, extraordinary situations