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Assassination of Richard Nixon

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

5.0 2
Director: Niels Mueller

Cast: Sean Penn, Don Cheadle, Jack Thompson

Niels Mueller's directorial debut, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, gets a competent but no-frills DVD release from New Line Home Entertainment. The widescreen anamorphic transfer presents the film in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. English soundtracks are rendered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Stereo. English and Spanish subtitles


Niels Mueller's directorial debut, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, gets a competent but no-frills DVD release from New Line Home Entertainment. The widescreen anamorphic transfer presents the film in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. English soundtracks are rendered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Stereo. English and Spanish subtitles are accessible. There are no supplemental materials, a fact that is a little disappointing considering that the film is based loosely on a true story.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Depending on how you look at it, this bizarrely compelling story is either “the mad story of a true man” (as the marketing campaign’s tag line reads) or the true story of a madman. Because Assassination is, in fact, based on a true story -- although it’s plainly evident that director/co-writer Niels Mueller has taken liberties with the facts and imbued the narrative with his own mordant sense of humor. The year is 1974. Sam Bicke (Sean Penn) is a beaten man. As an office-supplies salesman he’s a disaster. His hopes of establishing a tire-service center with longtime friend Bonny Simmons (Don Cheadle) are dashed when the Small Business Association bottles up his loan application. Worst of all, his wife, Marie (Naomi Watts), is about to leave and take their two daughters with her. Sam sees nothing but injustice about him, and fixates on then-President Richard M. Nixon as its source. So, wearing a fake mustache and concealing a gun in a leg brace, he heads for the airport to hijack a plane and fly it into the White House. In a post-9/11 world, that doesn’t seem like such an unlikely prospect, and it’s to Muller’s credit that he’s able to wring laughs out of Sam’s obsessive scheme. This movie isn’t making a political statement per se; Nixon just happened to be the guy in the White House when the real-life Bicke went off his rocker. The Assassination of Richard Nixon is about the descent into madness of a man who -- not without reason -- believes himself the ultimate victim of social injustice. Muller even concocts a stupefying subplot in which Sam attempts to join the Black Panthers, believing them to be kindred spirits. Clearly, this is the role Sean Penn was born to play. There isn’t another actor working in American film today capable of suggesting the quiet rage, the irrational hatred that bubbles beneath Sam Bicke’s placid exterior. Penn seems to be a pretty angry guy himself, and his trademark intensity is exactly the right quality this role demands. His is not the only exceptional performance, however. Watts is eminently believable as Sam’s long-suffering wife, and Cheadle makes a perfect foil. But without Penn there would be no movie. Try to imagine the Godfather movies without Al Pacino, and you’ll have an idea of what we mean.
All Movie Guide - Richie Unterberger
The Assassination of Richard Nixon is not really about Sam Bicke's little-known, confused, and wildly unsuccessful plan to actually assassinate Richard Nixon in early 1974. It's more about the psychology of a man driven to such acts -- and what specifically about America makes unstable men like Bicke feel pressured to take such incoherently desperate measures. Far more than a political or action thriller (though there's a little of that, too, at the very end), it's the portrait of a loser who feels inadequate at every level of society: at work, at home, and most crucially, within himself. It takes an excellent actor to pull off such a role, and Sean Penn delivers with one of his best performances -- his every shaky sentence, fearful glance, and defeated gait exuding fatalistic uncertainty. Along the way, Niels Mueller takes a hard, unflinching look at somber issues rarely dealt with in American movies, particularly the flexible ethics of the workplace, where barely-cutting-it schmoes like Sam Bicke are cut down at every turn, made to lie and feel lousy about themselves. It's that constant humiliation (a failed marriage to Naomi Watts doesn't help), more than any real articulate rage against Nixon or the political system, that fuels Penn's rather hysterical response to his situation. It's an unceasingly dreary world in which he's trapped, with Mueller framing his protagonist's life almost exclusively in unappealing settings, such as the tacky furniture store where he works (typically poorly) as a salesman; the ramshackle house where his soon-to-be-ex-wife and family lives; the icily bureaucratic offices where his loan application languishes; and the tire stores and garages where he hatches his improbable scheme to launch his own business. The script wisely adds some touches of morbid humor (particularly in the scene where a clueless Penn tries to join the Black Panthers), and Don Cheadle is excellent in a supporting role as Penn's only friend (a relationship, naturally, that Penn utterly sabotages). It's too much of a downer (right down to the shoot-it-out ending) to have wide appeal, but it's a riveting look into the underside of the lives of those who lack the basic social skills necessary to enter even the lower American middle class.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert

Does the film have a message? I don't think it wants one. It is about the journey of a man going mad. A film can simply be a character study, as this one is. That is sufficient. A message might seem trundled in and gratuitous.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
New Line Home Video
Region Code:

Special Features

Closed Caption; [None specified]

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sean Penn Sam Bicke
Don Cheadle Bonny
Jack Thompson Jack Jones
Michael Wincott Julius Bicke
Mykelti Williamson Harold Mann
Naomi Watts Marie Bicke
Nick Searcy Tom Ford
Brad Henke Martin Jones
Tracy Middendorf Businesswoman
Lily Knight Receptionist
April Grace Mae Simmons
Jared Dorrance Sammy Jr.
Jenna Milton Ellen
Mariah Massa Julie
Eileen Ryan Marie's Mother
Derek Greene Joey Simmons
Joe Marinelli Mel Samuels
Robert Kenneth Cooper Irate Driver

Technical Credits
Niels Mueller Director,Screenwriter
Doug Bernheim Co-producer
Jay Cassidy Editor
Lester Cohen Production Designer
Alfonso Cuarón Producer
Carlos Cuarón Associate Producer
Leonardo DiCaprio Executive Producer
Arnaud Duteil Executive Producer
Mali Finn Casting
Jose Antonio Garcia Sound/Sound Designer
Van A. Hayden Asst. Director
Avram "Butch" Kaplan Executive Producer
Kevin Kennedy Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Jason Kliot Producer
John Limotte Co-producer
Emmanuel Lubezki Associate Producer,Cinematographer
Kurt Mueller Associate Producer
Alexander Payne Executive Producer
Aggie Guerard Rodgers Costumes/Costume Designer
Steven M. Stern Score Composer
Frida Torresblanco Executive Producer
Jorge Vergara Producer
Joana Vicente Executive Producer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Sequence [4:34]
2. One Year Earlier [4:41]
3. Don't Be a Stranger [4:55]
4. The Land of Plenty [4:52]
5. 10:00 AM [5:26]
6. The Zebras [4:26]
7. Don't You Remember [4:16]
8. The Sacrifice [6:21]
9. Businessmen [6:27]
10. Charade [4:47]
11. More Patience [2:55]
12. Dissolution [4:08]
13. Last Day [3:32]
14. Notice in the Mail [2:50]
15. Things to Discuss [5:12]
16. Simple Idea [4:57]
17. Confrontation [4:46]
18. Baltimore Airport [6:00]
19. My Name Is Sam Bicke [5:32]
20. End Credits [4:20]


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The Assassination of Richard Nixon 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I rented this movie without reading what it was about because reviews give away too much of the plot. Sean Penn is riveting to watch as always. You won't be able to take your eyes off him. Definitely worth your time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first saw this film in theatrical release, and it was the first film ever I had seen with Sean Penn. I never realized what an accomplished actor Sean Penn is, and I must say that Penn was outstandingly perfect for the role of Sam Bicke. As you watch Sam's life unravel around him, you almost feel sorry for the poor man. He only wants to earn an honest living starting his own business, but finds that a world full of greed, corruption, and dishonesty severely hampers his dreams. Sean Penn should certainly be in the running for an Oscar nomination for this film.