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Saturday, May 24, 2008

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (2004)

It’s not so much that the thrill is gone, as the sophistication is gone in Jonathan Demme’s update of the John Frankenheimer/Sinatra/Laurence Harvey/Angela Lansbury ‘62 classic. Instead of Commies, Demme posits Big Business taking over the U.S. of A. as the dirty secret controlling events. This is a secret? On a technical level, it’s something of a comeback for Demme after two decades of wan hits & flops, but he (and his creative team) stifles the perverse fun of the original for an earnest, left-leaning political thriller in the post-MANCHURIAN mode of PARALLAX VIEW or 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR. The good cast work at half mast and have some fun (though Meryl Streep’s Hillary Clinton gag runs out of steam), which leaves Liev Schreiber out on a limb, glancing enviously at Laurence Harvey's opportunities in the original and trying for a bit of ambivalence.

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