The Manchurian Candidate

Tonight, I watched The Manchurian Candidate, starring Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, and Jon Voight. The 2004 reimagining of the critically-acclaimed 1962 version, the new script updates the original story to relevance in a world after the Communist threat.

Denzel Washington gives a brilliant performance as Ben Marco, an Army officer seeking answers to events following an ambush in Iraq and the ensuing symptoms of Gulf War syndrome and Post-traumatic stress disorder. His sergeant, Raymond Shaw (Schreiber), has returned from Iraq and successfully won a seat in the House of Representatives. Shaw is withdrawn man, even when he’s trying to be charismatic, and is nominated to run on the Democratic ticket for Vice President. He’s controlled by his manipulative mother, portrayed frighteningly by Meryl Streep, a senator in cahoots with the evil investment banking firm, Manchurian Global. A strong supporting cast brings the story to life.

This conspiracy thriller kept me on the edge of my seat nearly the whole time. Largely psychological, the story winds through revelations about secret experiments with mind control and attempts to dictate the future of the country with sleeper agents (particularly controlled politicians). It’s exciting, fun to watch, and unpredictable. The acting is first-rate and the film believable. The DVD has lots of extra features, although the Outtakes seem to be another section of deleted scenes — instead of the blooper reel we usually see on other DVDs.

My grade: B.

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