The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

01/26/2018 07:31

Film: The Manchurian Candidate

Year: 2004

Director: Jonathan Demme

Writer: Daniel Pyne and Dean Georgaris

Starring: Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep



This film begins in Kuwait back right before the Persian Gulf War started. We have a unit of soldiers who are playing poker inside of a tank; among them is Jeffrey Wright and Anthony Mackie. We then see that the leader of this unit is Denzel Washington. He talks with another member of the unit who tells him that they need to go along the highway even though they are left unprotected. We also see that Liev Schreiber is also part of this unit.

They are then ambushed and we see that Schreiber takes on the enemy soldiers single-handedly when Washington is knocked out. We then realize that Washington is telling this story a bunch of boy scouts, how well Schreiber did and that he won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor.

As Washington is leaving he bumps into Wright. He asks if he is having the same nightmares that he is and he shows him a glimpse of a notebook he is keeping, detailing what he has been seeing. Wright looks visible shaken and disheveled.

We then learn that Schreiber is running for Vice-President of the United States of America. His mother is a senator and has high aspirations for him, even though she doesn’t always agree with what his platform is. She is played by Meryl Streep. We see that they are close to another senator, who is played by Jon Voight. It appears that Schreiber has been seeing his daughter, played by Vera Farmiga.

Washington starts to look into what Wright told him. He is having the same nightmares and he buys the same thing every time he gets groceries. We meet a woman at the store; she is played by Kimberly Elise. We see from the nightmares that these men did some horrible things.

Wanting to look more into this, Washington visits Wright’s apartment to find more journals and to see that he has wrote all over his walls. Washington also meets with a group of soldiers who are trying to check the mental status of him. The two of the soldiers who are in charge of this are Ted Levine and Miguel Ferrer.

We see Schreiber go back to his room after a rally. His phone is ringing and it turns out to be Streep. His phone keeps ringing and someone states his name with his military title and then his full name. The light gets bright and he is told to go around a corner. During this, he meets with a doctor played by Simon McBurney. He inserts something into his temple.

Washington then goes on a train to New York to meet with Schreiber. On the train, he finds that Elise is on it as well. She sits with Washington and they talk. While they do, he starts to hallucinate that she has a hole in her forehead and blood pouring from it. They arrive in New York and she allows him to stay with her at her cousin’s apartment.

He showers and while he is cleaning his shoulder, notices that there is something under the skin. He removes it with a knife to find that it is a small device. He drops it though when Elise comes into the bathroom. Washington then goes out and seeks Schreiber, who at first won’t see him. He changes his mind and allows them to meet. He tells him what he has found with Wright and about the device in his back. He asks Schreiber to help him prove what happened to him. When he won’t, Washington rips open his shirt and bites his back.

Washington got the same device from Schreiber’s back and has a doctor friend investigate it. He gives information to Washington to start looking into this more. He also uses shock therapy to restart him, in hopes that he cannot be controlled like Schreiber.

Will this plan work? Can he convince Schreiber of what is inside him? Can he convince him that they did what the dreams are telling them? Who is all behind this? What is their plan and can it be stopped?

I had a basic idea of what this film was about before coming in and I have to say that I like what I saw. I first one off will say that this film has an all-star cast across the board, even in smaller roles, and they are all good. I like the story and concept of this film as well. The idea of hypnotizing and mind control is a good one, which is also a scary one to lose control of your body. It is even more interesting that they are Special Forces soldiers as well, because it is even scarier due to their capabilities. Those that are controlling them have nefarious plans which makes it even worse. The other thing I liked was that they are using this to control the country, because they think they know who should be president and how it is ran. It goes along with the conspiracy theory that our country is controlled by a secret society and I liked incorporating that into this film. One last thing that I really liked is the reveal of who is behind this plot.

Now I will say that this film is a little farfetched to believe. They do well to make it believable and real, but keep in mind that nothing that exists in this film could really happen. I do have to say as well that this film does go into some lulls at times that bored me. It also is interesting that no one could detect parts of this plot and that they could get away with some of the things they do. The biggest one is what happens at Voight’s lake house with his daughter and Schreiber.

I am adding this to the horror film research due to the fact that we have mind control of Special Forces soldiers. This is really scary concept to have soldiers like this at the disposal of those with bad intentions. Also the dreams and what really happens during their brainwashing is scary as well as horrifying.

With that said, I would recommend this film if you are into political thrillers, especially those with a little bit of sci-fi mixed in. The acting in this film is really good. The story and the concept are solid as well. Some of what happens is a little bit out there and will take some believability on your part. If you get past that, this film is horrifying as well to see that soldiers like this could be controlled by people who want power that bad. I think this film is really worth a viewing.


My Rating: 7 out of 10