Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Cheap-Arse Film Review #34- "THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE." (2004)


NAME: THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (2004)

RATED: 15

RELEASED: UM... 2004

WRITTEN BY: DANIEL PYNE & DEAN GEORGARIS, BASED ON THE ORIGINAL 1962 SCREENPLAY BY GEORGE AXELROD, WHICH WAS IN TURN BASED ON THE NOVEL BY RICHARD CONDON

DIRECTED BY: JONATHAN DEMME

STARRING: DENZEL WASHINGTON, MERYL STREEP, LIEV SCREIBER

GENRE: POLITICAL THRILLER

BOUGHT FROM: CEX

PRICE: £1.00

(Okay, Over a week late. I agree with you, this is shit. And I'm probably more upset about it than you are, one of the things I was most proud about with regards to this thing was that I'd managed to maintain a decent publishing schedule, which I'd never been any good at before. I do havean excuse but... I don't want to talk about it. It's not even that I can't, because I think I can, but I'm just afraid to I suppose, incase doing so causes something to go wrong. I don't know what, really. Maybe I'd burst into flames or something. The short version is- there are several great things going on in my life at the moment, stuff I've been working towards for a very long
time, and I'm estatic about it, but the fact is, it's thrown alot of things I was doing previously out of balance, this site included, and I'm fighting hard to try and rediscover that balance. And, well, at the moment, I'm failing. But bare with me, I promice thigs are going to start getting better very soon. Thank you for sticking by me. Normal service shall opefully be resumed soon.)(also this entire thing should be bolded, but for some reason Blogger won't let me do the whole thing. Don't ask me why, Blogger does so many things I don't understand, 've given up asking questions)

So, a remake then, the first time I've covered one. Discussing the concept of remakes with people can usually be counted on to stir up great passion, most usually the negative kind. For instance, about a year ago, I was talking to my Uncle, and mentioned in passing that I'd heard a remake of "Lord of the Flies" was being talked about,
and this proved enough to make him bellow, with great anger, "OH, AND I SUPPOSE IT'LL STAR LEONARDO DICAPRO AS A MAGICAL SWAN THAT FLIES DOWN TO SEE IF THE KIDS ARE ALL ALRIGHT!!!!!" And he doesn't even particularly like movies. I honestly think that it's just an instant reflex now for some people, to hear that something's being remade and go, "GRRR!" without even really thinking what they're GRRR-ing at. With that in mind, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that me just acknowledging this film exists is going to piss off a fair few people. And I think the next thing I'm going to say will annoy them even more- I've never seen the original "Manchurian Candidate." Yes, yes, I've seen a remake before I've seen the original. I'm well aware how taboo this is. I used to be the kind of person that'd jump all over a person if they admitted what I just did, and denounced them as some kind of failure, as both a cinephile and a human being. But I've really chilled out alot about this particular subject over time. The way I think about it is like this...

... every since humanity crawled out of the metaphorical gutter and developed the ability to communicate verbally, we've been telling stories. It's the mark of any intelligent society. And the cinema experience is really just a throwback to those days, us fulfilling our inbuilt desire to sit in the dark and be taken on a journey. All you'd need is a campfire and the illusion would be complete. But it doesn't stop there- it's been well documented that alot of tribes and cultures outright stole stories from each other and subtly
altered them, tailoring them to the audiences that were about to hear them, and often to the personality and particular likes and dislikes of the person telling them. And that's all remakes are. That's really all they are, it's a person taking a well-known, beloved story, and putting a new twist on it, leaving a bit of themselves to be seen in the telling, and also making them accessible to a different generation and/or culture. And when you think of them like that, they're not really something to get wound up over, are they?

Of course, with that said, that doesn't mean they can't be critiqued like any other film, or indeed that you can't compare and contrast them with what came first. For instance, I think we can all agree
that Tim Burton's decision to show Willy Wanka's childhood in his "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory" retelling was a mistake, however well-intentioned. Or that Gus Van Sant's decision to make his version of "Psycho" almost a shot-for-shot duplicate of the original (with the exception of some shots of Vince Vaughn masturbating and some... cows)(I've no idea) is practically the definition of pointless. And don't even get me started on mose of the East-To-West horror conversions. Christ almighty. But if I think a remake manages to surpass the original, I'm not afraid to say so. It's at this point I'm expected to mention "The Thing," as whenever the subjet of good remakes is brought up, this movie is always mentioned. But I'm not going to, not because I don't think it's good, because I do, but because I don't really consider it a remake, but rather another adaptation of the original source material. You know what movie I am going to mention here, though? The 2005 version of "The Amityville Horror." It's not the greatest movie ever made, at best it's a three star flick, and it's blighted by the same things that do in most modern horror movies, that being more of an emphisis on spectacle rather than mood, and feeling overall too slick and polished. But even with all that said, I still think it's still better than the original. And this opinion has nothing to do with the fact that Ryan Reynolds is one of the few men I'd let do naughty things to my bottom (I... legitimately can't believe I just wrote that). Has anybody here actually seen the original "Amityville Horror" recently? Well, I have, and the only way I can think to describe it is as a load of camp old nonsense. There's a reason why, whenever anybody references this film, they always bring up the bleeding walls- it's because that's the only good bit. And the acting... Margot Kidder... poor, poor Margot Kidder.

I'd also like to give an honourable mention to the recent (well, recent-ish) "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake. I'm not going to sit here and say it's as good as the original, because that'd make me a big fat liar. It's not, and it has a few serious problems. For a start, it's got that whole slick thing going on that I mentioned earlier, but they try to counteract that by making the whole film seem dirty, which basically means almost every frame in it seems to have been shot using a putrid brown filter. It looks like it's being filmed from the inside of someone's arse (it's just dawned on me how
anally-obsessed this review is becoming. No more of this, I swear). And secondly, this is a fanboy gripe, I make no bones about it, but I feel so strongly about it that I'm going to mention it anyway... they should never have shown Leatherface's actual face. Never. Never ever ever. The second they did that, all his mystique was gone, and all he was from that point forward was just another disfigured dude killing people in a horror movie. But I watched it, and I have to say I found it alot less painful than I expected. And the reaction from other fanboys on various forums had me in hysterics. One I particularly remember was some guy saying it "desecrated the memory of the original." I just sat there at me computer for a few minutes thinking, "Really? Really?" Because in my opinion, the original had been pretty thoroughly desecrated already by the succession of increasingly diminishing sequels, peaking with number four, which (and I hate saying this, because every desensitized little shit in the world says this about every horror movies that dares not have actual death and humiliation up on the screen) you can't convince me wasn't supposed to be a comedy. If anything, I think the remake redressed the balance a little bit and gave the world one more good movie with the words "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" in the title.

I've spent far to much time talking about movies that aren't actually the one I'm supposed to be reviewing. That's a good sign, isn't it?

This will sound like hyperbole, but I've thought about this for a while (and no, before some snark pipes up, that's not why this review's so late), and I genuinely believe what I'm about to type- I think this movie has one of the worst opening credit sequences I've ever seen. This is all it is- the names of the lead actors appear as animated CGI, made so it makes them flap around like flags. Then we get the title, which is doing the same thing. That's it. I just read those last few lines back to myself, and I think I'm really underselling just how pony this looks. I'm starting to think words can't really describe what I'm trying to get across. It just looks so... cheap. And to make matters worse, they make absolutely no attempt to intigrate it into the opening of the film- once the logo flashes (or rather, flutters) up on screen for a bit, poof, it's gone, and we're instantly into the first scene. Even the music that was playing over the top of it suddenly stops, only to be replaced by something completely different. It really feels like something they threw together in an afternoon after leaving it to the last minute.

Following this, we then find ourselves in an extremely confined space, watching a bunch of soldiers playing poker. This goes on for a long time. A very long time. Infact it goes on so long, I hit fast forward just to make sure the disc wasn't broken and playing one scene in a continuous loop, as I've had that happen before. We
eventually find out this confined space is the back of an army truck (this scene takes place in Kuwait in the year 1991, just so you know) when we cut outside to see the unit's captain, Ben Marco (Denzel Washington), order Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), the only one of his men not inside having fun, to tell them they'll be heading out soon, into dangerous territory. The movie wastes no time hammering home the fact that Shaw is a strange guy, due to the fact that, not only is he not palling it up with his comrades, but he seems content to just sit on a chair in the middle of the desert, staring off into space with a blank look on his face. Without getting ahead of myself a bit here, all of this would be perfectly fine if Shaw was later revealed to be in on the conspiracy the film is built around, but as we find out, he's as much a puppet as any of them eventually become. So this little bit establishes nothing, other than the fact that Shaw is a miserable git that nobody really likes. It all feels a bit tacked on. Like the credits, I suppose.

So anyway, they eventually run into trouble, and the shit seems to well and truly hit the fan, with Marco being knocked out after somebody hits him in the face with the butt of their gun. We know Marco survives this though, as he's narrating over the events as they're unfolding (and also because he's the main character of this movie). It's eventually revealed that he's telling the story of what happened that night to a crowd of Boy Scouts, answering questions they throw out, such as whether or not any of his men were killed (as it turns out, two were. Remember that, it's important later)
, whilst continually heaping praise on Shaw, telling the boys how he single-handedly held the enemy off and saved the rest of his men, and how he personally recommended him for the Congressional Medal of Honour. It all seems fairly run-of-the mill, until afterwards when he confronted by Al Melvin (Jeffrey Wright) one of the surviving members of his old squad. Melvin looks a complete mess, frankly- like a man who's survived the proceeding years on a combined total of eight hours sleep. I don't know if there's any make-up or production trickery involved, or if it's all down to the actor's performance, but he looks almost deformed, like whatever's going on in his mind has spread to his physical appearance. It's a great turn, infact it may even be too great- when he starts babbling about having two sets of memories, and having dreams about what he thinks really happened the night Shaw supposedly saved them all, you really have to suspend disbelief that Marco would stand there and listen to him say what he has to say, which is some disjointed ramblings about how he thinks he doesn't remember things going the way Marco said they did, but at the same time, he does. So he sounds like a loony, as well as looking like one. He also mentions something about dreams, asking Marco if he has them. Marco says he doesn't, and then sets about fobbing the guy off and pretty much telling him he needs to get help, which, like I said before, is the most natural reaction you could have.

Once home, Marco settles down to watch the coverage of some American political party convention, as they hype up the fact that this
party's Vice-Presidential candidate will be picked within the next few hours. Notice how I'm not identifying this party as being either Republican or Democrat. That's because the movie never does, either. Infact, not only is it never named, we also don't see any imagery that would associate it to either party. We don't even get a look at the other group in the race, almost as if they did that, people might start guessing which was supposed to be which. I'm in two minds about this. On the other hand, it does away with at least some of the risk of this movie being seen as one big political bitch-slap. On the other hand, by avoiding the issue altogether, it comes across as a little bit, I don't know, cowardly. Like they were afraid of offending anyone and loosing a large chunk of their adience in the process.

In any event, we're soon whisked to the convention itself, where we once again meet up with Shaw, who is now one of the young, leading lights of this particular party, and are introduced to his mother Eleanor (Meryl Streep), who's a senator (don't bother asking me where, because... well, I'm sure you've figured it out by now). Eleanor, you've met before in a thousand different movies, of almost as many different genres- she's the pushy mother that seems to believe she knows what's best for her child, despite what he might believe (and boy, does this idea take a gross turn later). Shaw's characterisation is a bit more complex, or put more accurately, scattershot- in some scenes, such as the one here with his mother,
he's portrayed not as some snivling yes man, but rather as somebody who's got a little bit of a backbone to him. He's going along with what she wants, that being to position himself as the potential VP, but he's not letting her walk over him, and you can see a little bit of ambition in his own eyes as well. Later though, his personality does a complete 180 and he ends up looking weak, fragile and, well, a little bit naive. It could be that they were trying to get across that all these little changes were hypnotic suggestions kicking in (yes, if you've not seen either this or the original before, hypnosis plays a massive part in this movie), but again, it would be nice to have that at least hinted at to us. As it stands, all it looks like is that the screenwriter didn't really have a good handle on who Shaw was as a character, and so just changed him constantly depending on what the scene needed.

Shaw of course wins the nomination, but not without a fight, as his party had originally decided to go with Thomas Jordan (Jon Voight, who's in this thing so little I think he barely qualifies as making a cameo). Eleanor sorts them out with a tongue-lashing, and whilst her speech it laced through with thinly-disguised xenophobia, she also makes a few good points about the need for her party (whichever one it may be), to present something new, vibrant and youthful. The fact that I was slghtly repulsed by the things she was saying one minute and nodding with agreement the next is, believe it or not, the closest this movie really comes to complexity.

It's hearing this news that seems to tip Marco over the edge, as when he fall to sleep that night, like Melvin, he has a dream that seems to point to something sinister going on. I was talking to someone online recently about how dream sequences almost never feel like real dreams, and I could think of maybe only a handful that were in any way successful. Well, you can add this one to that handful. It's marvelously done, as it's literal enough to seem like it's posible this may have been the way things really happened, but there's also enough strange, out-of-context things to give it a feeling of unease and menace, such as weird, arabian ladies with tattoos on their faces and men holding TVs for no apparent reason just walking around. Amongst all this, we see Shaw kill an man bu suffocating him with some plastic, and we also get a look at the equipment used to fo the brainwashing, which looks like it was swiped from the set of "The Mind Snatchers." Sadly, as is the case with alot of dreams, whilst there's a hint of truth to these images, they end up being revealed as exaggerations- we later discover that Shaw choked the man he killed with his bare hands, and the brainwashing appears to have been administered through surgery and a constant exposure to propaganda. Shame, I was hoping to see more shots of everybody walking around with giant pipes sticking out of ther heads.

Wanting to get to the bottom of what's going on, Marco attempts to make contact with Shaw. His first attempt occurs at a party
seemingly being thrown in Shaw's honour, where Marco is (CONVENIENTLY!) working as a "babysitter" for two other arm-types. The meeting doesn't go well, as Shaw snaps at Marco not to touch him when he does just that. In Shaw's defence, he had just made something of a fool of himself in front of Jocelyne, Senator Jordan's daughter (played by Vera Farmiga, who some of you may remember as the shrink from "The Departed." Sadly, like her screen father, she has almost nothing to do), and very obviously the love of Shaw's life, as in a previous scene he'd confronted his mother about sabotaging their relationship, and then here he practically tells the woman herself that the reason all his other relationships have failed is because the women weren't her. This is where the split in Shaw's personalities becomes really apparent, because he goes from gentle and loving, do desperate, to angry in the space of a couple of minutes. Still, I suppose love can do that to you, so I'll let it slide.

Following this, Marco is shown in a meeting with his superiors, where the movie actually lets the watcher in on something, which is that in contradiction to what he told Melvin, Marco has been having the those dreams for the last several yeas, he just denied and surpressed them. Revel in this moment of clarification, because this movie really doesn't dole out too many of them. I'm all for not having my hand held and not being treated like an idiot, but the fact is, this movie leaves alot of thing unsaid, and quite a few of them it really could do with saying. Marco shrugs off their belief
that he's suffering from, amongst other thing, Gulf War Syndrome, and attempts to convince them that what he believes is true, only to agressively be shot down by one of his superiors (played by That Bald Dude You've Seen In Alot Of Things Whose Name You Can Never Remember), who tells him, "You're telling me an entire squad of US Army Soldiers was hypnozised into believing that Raymond Shaw deserved the Medal of Honour, and somehow thanks to your dream, you're the only one who knows the truth?" Well, when you put it like that... The meeting predictably ends with Marco being told to stay clear of Shaw. Yeah, like that's going to happen.

Actually, it does. For a little while at least. The next sequence involves two scenes that we're left to assume are happening simultaniously intercut with each other. The first involves Marco breaking into Melvin's apartment in order to steal the book of scribblings we briefly got a glimpse at during their scene together right at the beginning. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why this book was so important to the overall plot of the movie, and I still can't now as I'm typing this- it's not proof of anything, it's really nothing other than a bunch of drawings and collages that seem to have been made by a madman. There's one particular image that really bothers me, and that's a collage of Shaw with a Swastika
drawn on his forehead. I'd be fine with it if the movie was implying that Shaw was a facist, or even that he was being used in a plot that was in some way mtivated by the thought and beliefs that have come to be associated with that symbol, but it doesn't, it seems like the only reason it's there is because the Nazis weren't nice (understatement of the fucking decade, right there), and neither is Shaw. The fact is, that symbol still represents pain and suffering on a scale few can even begin to comprehend to alot of people still alive today, so I don't like seeing it thrown around without any care or attention. And it definitely should never become shorthand for, "This man's bad." Of course, the filmmakers thought it was either important or powerful, so we see it not just here, but in another scene too later on, too.

At the same time, we cut back to Shaw's hotel room, where a phone conversation with his mother (Christ, this woman won't leave him alone for five minutes. What is she, in love with him?), is interrupted by another call from a gentleman with an English accent (they try to sell him to us as South African, but that's bullshit, he's English) who's later revealed to us to be the scientist Aticus Noyle, putting him into a hypnotically suggestive trance by saying his full name in a particular way. From this point forward, I'm not sure what's real and what's not, as Noyle has Shaw open his closet and climb through a hole there, in order to bring him to an operating theatre, where they conduct minor brain surgery on him
, inserting a new implant. I'm just not sure I buy this, that they'd have this place set up and ready to go at a moment's notice. It doesn't look like the kind of set-up that travels either, meaning this place is just there all the time, waiting for the brainwashed to check in for a tune up. I could believe that this is all going on in Shaw's head, and to be fair to the movie, there's a not-so-subtle hint later pointing to this possibly being the case, but that's about it.

It's following these two scenes that the movie begins to move along faster, and it's also around this point that the movie begins to totally lose the plot. Marco meets a seemingly sweet girl called Rosie (Kimberly Elise) on a train, who claims to know him and
promptly starts flirting with him in the most obvious way imaginable. As I was watching this little interaction, I couldn't help but remember what I wrote in my "North By Northwest" review, which strangely also featured the main character having an interest shown in him on a train- if you had all this weird stuff going on around you, wouldn't your senses be hightened slightly, to the point that you'd think to yourself that this event is so odd and out-of-the-blue, that you's at least consider that they're connected. I would. Marco doesn't, and seems to enjoy the attention being shown to him. He's not helped by the fact that he's tripping balls practically the entire time he's sitting there though, seeing men sitting opposite him that aren't there a second later, bleeding holes appearing on people's foreheads (which, I'll admit, is an affectively creepy image), and then in the toilet after he's excused himself, he sees Aticus Noyle standing behind him in the mirror, thus validating my belief that the scene with him in the hotel with Shaw didn't really happen.

Marco ends up staying at Rosie's place. Hey, he just met this girl, seemed really weird in front of her, and yet she's letting him sleep in her house as long as he needs to! That's not weird at all! I suppose I may as well tell you now- Rosie turns out to be a cop sent to keep an eye on Marco for some reason. Again, it's never made clear why, and at this point other than saying a few odd things he's done nothing to warrant this kind of surveillance. But the movie needed a cop in it to help the god guy later, so there she is. Shaw
and Marco meet up again, this time at what looks like the main headquarters of Shaw and his running mate's White House attempt. Shaw at first seems reluctant to speak to Marco, but after he assures him he's not crazy (in a manner that I don't think would fill anybody with confidance that he's telling the truth), they sit down and have a bit of a chat. Shaw ven admits that there are times that he doubts his memories himself. Then, in a move that frankly baffled me, Marco gives Shaw Melvin's book. I mean, how could he have thought this was a good idea. "You can trust me, I'm not crazy. By the way, here's a book full of images of you depicted as the Anti-Christ. Thought you'd like to give that a going over." It's as he reads this that Shaw's whole personality changes once again, this time becoming quite aggressive and assertive, taking back everything he'd said previously and pretty much telling Marco that he's crazy.

Marco then throws him across the table, partially rips his shirt off and starts biting him.

There is context to this, I swear- earlier, whilst washing in Rosie's bathroom, Marco had found a lump on his back. He managed to remove what was underneath his skin to discover that it was some kind of tiny Microchip, only to drop it down the sink before he can have it looked at by his Tokar (Robyn Hitchcock, playing a computer/gadget wiz that appears out of nowhere with barely any kinfd of introduction just because the film now needs a charact
er like that). Determined to get another one, during his attack of Shaw, he discovers an identical bump on his back, and decides to remove the chip. With his teeth. This doesn't sit too well with Shaw's security, who burst in and have Marco arrested. I don't know for sure, but I don't think a guy caught violently attacking one of the men in the running for what is the second most powerful position in the known world would just get arrested. I suspect he's leave the scene in a bag, with several holes in him. And for all the effort he put in, I can't help but think it wasn't worth it, for him as well as us, as (say it with me folks), we never really find out what those microchips are or what they do, nor does removing them seem to have any affect on the hypnosis.

Marco is now question by police, not just about this incident, but also about Melvin, as he's recently been found dead in a river (suicide? Murder? I like how you've not given up asking for answers yet. It's cute), and the know he broke into his apartment recently. The movie's lone (intentionally) funny moment happens here, as a particularly arseholish cop keeps getting in Marco's face, calling him a psycho and daring him to hit him, until Marco, without so much as a warning, does just that. And then the guy acta all surprised that he's just been punched. It'sa nice moment of levity in a film that takes itself very, very seriously. Marco's soon back on the streets, and Shaw refuses to press charges (okay, so he's off that
wrap, but isn't he still technically a murder suspect?), and he enlists the help of his friend to help him straighten out his memories but, as they put it, "rebooting" his mind. When he comes to following this, he's in a park with Rosie standing over him. The effects of the reboot temperarily leave him in a child-like state, but slowly his memories start to come back to him, and we see for the first time what it was really like in the camp where his squad had their minda altered. These brief little scenes are quite effective, as they're shown to us in a very stark, to-the-point manner. In order to prove the suggestion worked, both Marco and Shaw were ordered to kill one of their own men, which both of them do with absolutely no fuss whatsoever. They act like it's the most normal thing in the world, and that in itself is quite chilling.

Marco now starts researching into the people who did this to him, and why they would want to in the first place. Which you think would be difficult, but no, he manages to find almost all the information he needs surfing the Internet at his local public library. What he discovers is this- Noyle was hired by The Manchurian Group, an evil (I didn't want to use such an unsubtle word to describe them, but the movie really leaves me with no choice) corporation who seem to have their fingers in several bad-tasting pies, who aspire to be in control of what Marco calls, "The first privately-owned President of the United States." Armed with this information, he uses it to makean ally of Senator Jordan (HEY! LOOK! THEY REMEMBERED THEY HAD
JON VOIGHT!), who's had dealing in the past with The Manchurian Corporation, and as such doesn't put anything past them. This part feels so rushed, as stretches the credibility of the characters to breaking point, especially in the case of Senator Jordan- we're expected to believe this intelligent servant of the people buys this, frankly, ludicrous scheme after talking to the person presenting it to him just once? Bullshit. I could believe it if they'd spent most of the second act having Marco trying to convince Jordan of what's going on, coming to him with more and more evidence until he can't dispute it anymore. That would have been great, and the scenes between the two could have been electric. I mean, I know I keep saying it, but... they had Jon Voight. Use him, for fuck sake!

Voight visits Shaw and Eleanor at one of their homes (I don't know which. Maybe they live together)(Actually, with te bit that's coming up soon, I don't want to even consider that being a possibility), and tells Shaw that he has to withdraw from the race and be tested to see if what Marco told him was true. Or what? You'll go on TV and spill the beans? Yes, because that wuldn't make you a laughing stock that looks bitter at being passed over for nomination, would it. After he's gone, Shaw mournfully tells him mother that he's been having the dreams Marco told him about, and looks set to do what Jordan asked him to, before his mother puts him in a hypnoti
c trance, revealing (if you can call it that) that she's in on everything.She then sends her son to kill Jordan and his daughter. No, really. He walks out into the sea near Jordans home, still in his clothes, and drowns both of them with his bare hands. WAT?! Are you kidding? That was her plan? After all these years of secrecy and backroom dealings, she uses his programming to have him do away with two people in broad daylight? And it didn't cross her mind that somebody might have seen one of the Vice-Presidential candidates walking around in a soggy suit and though to themselves, "Wow, that's weird." Infact, this little development is so stupid, the movie actually admits as much, having to people from Manchurian bitch out Eleanor for taking everything they've worked towards and putting it in jepordy by briefly turning her son into The Terminator.

So with no other options left, Marco decides to confront Shaw one last time, on the night he attends a rally celebrating his parties victory, now aided by his recently-revealed-to-be-a-cop friend Rosie. Of course, it a trap, as a tearful Shaw (after giving him his Medal, saying he deserves it more) tells him they had him factored into the plan pretty much from the beginning, and soon Shaw finds himself hypnotised into shooting the President, thus making Shaw the Leader of the Free World, and allowing The Manchurian Corporation to... do whatever it is they wanted to do with him (again, never revealed, we're just supposed to assume it's bad because GRRR!
CORPORATIONS!), and Marco has now been turned into the trigger man, the guy who'll take the fall. Gee, I bet he hadn't spent most of the movie seeming so crazy now, doesn't he. Eleanor explains all of his to Shaw in a gentle, loving manner, before she... wait, what? She's... she's lingering close to his face as if she's going to... to... no way, they won't... OH GOD SHE'S MOVING CLOSER! CUT AWAY! CUTAWAYCUTAWAYCUTAWAYCUTAWAYCUTAWAY oh thank Jesus they cut away! What was that?! What were they trying to imply with that scene? That she uses hypnosis to... I don't even want to type it! Who the FUCK thought that was a good idea!? "Gee, y'know what this movie needs? Implied incest!" Jesus tittyfucking Christ.

The plot's foiled eventually,when Shaw has an attack of concious and
obscures Marco's shot at the President before looking up at him and imploring him to shot him, which he does, taking out his mother as well with the same shot (well, I guess they did get to achieve some form of penetration with each other, eh?)(that may be both the worst and most morally dubious joke I've ever made. Thank you, and I'm sorry). Don't ask me how Marco was able to just shrug off his orders and go into business for himself. I guess it can be broken with willpower, although you have to wonder where Shaw's willpower was when he was killing the only woman he's ever loved. Anyway, Rosie stops Marco from killing himself, news footage is altered to protect his identity (and the way th do that is hilarious, they esentially use a digital eraser that replaces him with a white guy) we're shown a group of people in one of the offices at The Manchurian Corporation watching the news of Shaw's death and looking sad, then we see Marco and Rosie walking amongst the wreckage of the place he was brainwashed. You know, that top secret place that nobody knew the location of. Shaw's last act is to put the medal and a picture of is boys into the sea surrounding the building, as we hear him say in voiceover that there are always casualties in war.

I was so disappointed by this movie it's noteven funny. When I found it, I saw all the big names attached to it, and thought there had to be some quality there, and tat it'd be a good movie to base my little rant about remakes around. Sadly, whilst I still stand by everything I wrote at the beginning of this, I'll conceed that this movie may not have been the best to try and make my point with. It's
pretty awful. Of the three leads, the only person who walks away deserving any kind of kudos is Schreiber for wrestling manfully with a role that nobody involved creativelyseemed to really understand. But then I expected nothing else from him, as anybody who had the misfortune of sitting through "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" could tell you. All I'll say is, anybody who can maintain an air of dignity and menace when the role occasionally calls for you to run on all fours like a dog, you're clearly talented. Meanwhile, Washington is I think trying to come across as lost and sad, but he just seems really bored the whole time, and Streep, probably the most on-or-off actress there has ever, ever been, spends most of this movie hamming it up so much her character may as well have a snout. I also want to mention the score, and how melodramatic and intrusive it is- tere's barely a scene that doesn't have some mournful horn parping away in the background like a WW2-based First Person Shooter. Humourously, the most emotionally-effective scene in te movie, that being the shots on the brainwashed Marco and Shaw killing the teammates, happen in silence.

But I think the movies biggest flaw is the fact that it's dumb. Properly dumb. And yet it thinks it's really smart, that it's making some grand points about war and power. It's a silly film, with a silly plot, that it takes far too seriously and has no sense of either humour or awareness of itself. This movie is Paris Hilton going on Larry King after doing time for drink driving and
announcing she's going to change the world. Everybody laughed at her. And everybody should laugh at this too.

FINAL VERDICT

BINNED!

I can't judge it as a remake, but I can judge it as a movie. And as a movie, it stinks.

Until next week, I'm The Cheap-Arse Film Critic, and we all go a little mad sometimes.

4 comments:

Dave said...

When the movie hit the theatre, I shelled out the obligatory 7.50 and felt like the "bad movie dirt" would never come off. I remember the trailer looked promising, so I thought what the heck, why not.

I thoroughly agree on your synopsis and rating!

The Lam said...

My sister's friend gave it to her for her birthday when it came out. I watched it, but wasn't offended. Thought it was okay, but had no gravy on the original of course.

The Cheap-Arse Film Critic said...

Thanks forreading and posting. I also wanted to say congratulations on beig picked up as a writer for Attack This!

Gorilla Bananas said...

Thanks for the review, I'll remember to avoid watching it. The remakes of King Kong were all as bad as the original, as far as I'm concerned. A gorilla falling in love with a woman! Hah!