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Manchurian Candidate

The Manchurian Candidate

3.9 8
Director: Jonathan Demme

Cast: Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber


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Jonathan Demme directed this updated remake of John Frankenheimer's 1962 cult favorite The Manchurian Candidate, a pioneering examination of political conspiracy and psychological reconditioning. Major Bennett Marco (Denzel Washington) and Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) are two soldiers who served in the same company during Operation Desert Storm, but


Jonathan Demme directed this updated remake of John Frankenheimer's 1962 cult favorite The Manchurian Candidate, a pioneering examination of political conspiracy and psychological reconditioning. Major Bennett Marco (Denzel Washington) and Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) are two soldiers who served in the same company during Operation Desert Storm, but their paths following their tours of duty have been very different. Shaw, the son of powerful congresswoman Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep), has used his reputation as a war hero to quickly scale the ladder of American politics, and with the help of his mother earns the Vice Presidential nomination. Marco, on the other hand, has been troubled with mental illness, and is convinced that something strange happened to him and his compatriots during the war. As Marco struggles to find the truth behind his nightmares and emotional torment, he unearths some disturbing facts about how his mind and body have been reworked by shadowy forces, as well as those of his fellow soldiers -- including Raymond Shaw. Featuring a stellar supporting cast (including Jon Voight, Miguel Ferrer, Ted Levine, and Dean Stockwell), The Manchurian Candidate credits George Axelrod's screenplay for the 1962 film as its source, as opposed to Richard Condon's 1959 novel from which Axelrod adapted his script.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Updating a Cold War thriller to reflect 21st-century geopolitics is tricky business, but director Jonathan Demme reworks Richard Condon’s pulpy page-turner rather neatly, owing to particularly deft scripting and some noteworthy performances. Top-billed Denzel Washington brings feverish intensity to his characterization of Major Ben Marco, a career officer haunted by dreams of his days as a captive during the Gulf War. Everybody knows that Marco was rescued by one of his sergeants, Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), who parlayed his heroism into a distinguished political career that’s earned him his party’s nomination for vice president. Yes, everybody knows -- but is that what really happened? Did Shaw really save his commanding officer, or was he just a pawn in a larger game? Tackling the role played by Frank Sinatra in John Frankenheimer’s 1962 version, Washington makes Marco a borderline paranoiac who risks his career and even his life in an obsessive quest for the truth, and the actor conveys that zeal so convincingly that he’ll give you goose bumps. Schreiber, a sensational actor who seems to have a particular affinity for tightly wound characters, brings maturity and affability to Shaw while at the same time suggesting the inner conflict that threatens to unhinge him. But the real acting honors go to Meryl Streep, whose bravura characterization of Raymond’s mother -- herself a ruthless U.S. senator inflamed with the desire to see her son installed in the White House -- is unlike anything she’s ever done on film. Her scenes crackle with near-demonic energy, and she constantly drags Momma Shaw right to the precipice of believability, only to pull back before going over the edge. Without Communists to pick on, Demme and his screenwriters assign the primary villainy to monstrously large multinational Manchurian Global, and one can easily draw correlations to the current administration's ties to the corporate world. Ultimately, the story may be preposterous, but Demme keeps the tension ratcheted so that you won't notice such things until after the credits roll.
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
For all of Jonathan Demme's formidable skill behind the camera, his greatest talent is his ability to utilize close-ups. His innate humanism, his interest in whomever he films, comes through every time Denzel Washington's anxious face fills the frame in The Manchurian Candidate. This film only works if the viewer feels Marco's anxiety, paranoia, and frustration. Washington communicates these things with the smallest of facial tics and the subtlest shifts in his eyes. Demme's camera captures every moment of a nuanced, controlled performance that keeps the audience with the film, even when it goes into situations where it becomes harder and harder to suspend disbelief. Liev Schreiber matches Washington's minimalist intensity, and he also benefits from Demme's sympathetic, observant camera. Fine turns from Meryl Streep, Kimberly Elise, and the woefully underappreciated Jeffrey Wright all offer up engaging performances that gain from Demme's fearless love of faces. Those familiar with the original film version of Richard Condon's book may be surprised by some of the changes in this version. Demme and his screenwriters have more or less eliminated the black humor of the original, and they have altered some of the film's major plotlines. These changes all work within this film and help allow it to stand up against any comparison with the original. Anybody familiar with Demme's politics will know what he has to say on the subject of the war on terror, but anybody familiar with Demme's films should also be confident that the politics never once compromise or overwhelm the story. The Manchurian Candidate is a well-made, intelligent summer popcorn film anchored by the compelling face of Denzel Washington.
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 intelligent entertainment and a high point of director Jonathan Demme's career.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Denzel Washington Major Bennett Marco
Meryl Streep Eleanor Prentiss Shaw
Liev Schreiber Sgt. Raymond Shaw
Jon Voight Senator Thomas Jordan
Kimberly Elise Rosie
Jeffrey Wright Al Melvin
Ted Levine Colonel Howard
Bruno Ganz Richard Delp
Simon McBurney Dr. Atticus Noyle
Vera Farmiga Jocelyn Jordan
Robyn Hitchcock Laurent Tokar
Miguel Ferrer Colonel Garrett

Technical Credits
Jonathan Demme Director,Producer
Scott Aversano Executive Producer
Gary Chester Sound Mixer
Tak Fujimoto Cinematographer
Dean Georgaris Screenwriter
Ilona Herzberg Producer
Wyclef Jean Score Composer
Carol Littleton Editor
Craig McKay Editor
Rachel Portman Score Composer
Daniel Pyne Screenwriter
Scott Rudin Producer
Tina Sinatra Producer
Nancy Sinatra Producer
Albert Wolsky Costumes/Costume Designer
Kristi Zea Production Designer


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The Manchurian Candidate 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Denzel Washington is great
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a big Denzel fan, but this was easily his worst movie in years. Not that he delievered a bad performance, he never does. But I just couldn't get into this movie at all. It was too confusing, or maybe I just had too much to drink at the time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
if you want to watch a great movie get this. i saw it in theaters with my roommate and i loved it. It is suspenseful and has a great twist at the ending
Guest More than 1 year ago
With the present administration, anything is possible and in this classic, possibly better than the original we must awaken from our slumber to see the "sleeper" in the White House. This, I imagine, was Johnathan Demme's concern.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This 2004 remake of the 1962 film did a fabulous job telling the story of Ben Marco and the Shaw family. The audience is surprised around every corner as you get to know the characters and discover what you think is real, just may not be. The film centers on the story of both Ben Marco, played by Denzel Washington, and Raymond Shaw, played by Liev Schreibe, who served in the military and experienced a horrible ambush during the Gulf War. Shaw became a decorated war hero for saving the men in their unit and soon became pushed into the public government arena. Marco, on the other hand, kept to himself until he started having dreams and flashbacks that indicated what he remembered may not be exactly what really happened. After watching Marco go through much turmoil and plot twists, we learn that it is a corporation named, Manchurian Global, who is behind all of the deceit. The memories are indeed fiction, made up to create the perfect vice president candidate, Raymond Shaw. None of this would have been possible without the help of Shaw¿s mother, Eleanor. Meryl Streep did a superb job in this role of puppet master. Not only does she have complete control over her son, she also manages to present herself as a well liked Senator and devoted mother. However, she will go to whatever means is necessary to assure her son¿s position in the White House. With just one pull of Raymond¿s strings, she is able to create new memories as well as have him kill both the love of his life and her father, one of the few people who were beginning to believe in Marco. I found all of the characters to be very talented. Being a huge Denzel fan, I was not surprised by his excellent performance. However, I was shocked to find myself unsure of his story. I, like the many people in the film, doubted Marco in the beginning and thought perhaps he was losing his mind. I shamefully found myself occasionally cheering for the wrong side. With the plot changes and the many flashbacks of the various memory sequences, it was rather difficult to know who was being truthful. After awhile, you also could not help but to wonder which side would prevail. Not only did you have to choose sides between the Shaw¿s and Marco, you also have to wonder about Marco¿ character as well. Will he be able to do the right thing or will the power of Eleanor be just too much for him? The end of the movie is not only excellent but also quite shocking. The film takes you to the edge of your seat and back again with what Marco is actually going to do. The final scene with Raymond and Eleanor was well worth the wait. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for couple hours of action packed drama, as well as anyone who is either a Denzel Washington or Meryl Streep fan. You will not be disappointed.
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