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THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE

A U.S. Army major and the men in his patrol were taken captive by Iraqis during the first Gulf War. Now, in 2004, the former officer is being driven mad by nightmares in which the sergeant who won a Medal of Honor for leading him and his men to freedom was in reality a deadly enemy--one with dreams of making himself at home in the White House.

CAST: Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight, Kimberly Elise, Jeffrey Wright, Ted Levine, Bruno Ganz, Miguel Ferrer, Dean Stockwell, Jude Ciccolella, Simon McBurney, Vera Farmiga, Obba Babatunde, Zeljko Ivanek, Charles Napier

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme

SCREENWRITERS: Dean Georgaris and Daniel Pyne

"A gourmet-popcorn movie—a hugely entertaining thriller shot through with dark shards of agony and paranoia. It takes nothing away from the original while delivering pleasures all its own…Demme and his screenwriters have spun the plot in new directions, injecting this byzantine tale with fresh resonance…Washington, digging deep into his simmering rage, gives us a man whose paranoia and confusion have left him stunned and stunted. There's no movie-star vanity in this performance...the beauty of Schreiber's performance is that he's able to make us feel for him, something [Laurence] Harvey, with his metallic chill, couldn't do. Streep, smartly, doesn't try to emulate Angela Lansbury's steely, imperious ferocity. Her powerhouse performance loosens Eleanor's buttons: this matriarch is more volatile, humorous, a woman almost giddy with power.” --David Ansen, Newsweek

“A political thriller that manages to be at once silly and clever, buoyantly satirical and sneakily disturbing…The new version unfolds at a time succinctly and scarily identified as ‘today,’ and proceeds from the nominating convention of a major political party toward a frenzied Election Night finale, feeding on an anxiety about the future that is neither exaggerated nor easily assuaged...You may notice a slight resemblance to a certain real-life New York senator, but Ms. Streep's swaggering, ice-cube-chewing performance is too full of inspired, unpredictable mischief to be mere mimickry.” --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“A remake that not only is very good but that burns with fervor and up-to-the-minute topicality...Demme rearranges the furniture just enough to catch fans of the original movie off guard...By updating the brainwashing scenes to the Gulf War, ‘Candidate’ plays into our uncertainties about where that conflict has led us, and the narrative rolls so relentlessly toward a dark nexus of money, political power, and corporate clout that the film could just as easily have been called ‘The Halliburton Candidate’...The first ‘Candidate’ was inspired pop art, a two-dimensional coloring book about 1962 America's subterranean political fears. Demme's film is more nuanced, less crazy-brilliant and, yes, probably less necessary, but it's still a confirmation of all the anxieties out there on the table and festering in our heads.” --Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

“A mediocre reengineering of the John Frankenheimer classic of 1962. It shunts through the material, doing some interesting synthesizing, some genetic recombining, but it all adds up to something less powerful and interesting than the original...None of the devices -- from the phrase that got Raymond into his killer robot mood to the killings themselves -- is as elegant and expressive here as they were there...The big news surrounding this film, of course, is the allegation that Meryl Streep evokes Hillary Rodham Clinton. The problem with this is that it's wrong. Streep, who's brilliant, does a far more generic Washington power-woman spin. She's the best thing in the picture, alternately as coy as a concubine and as shrewd as a Chicago ward heeler, but with a mind faster than an adding machine, a will of iron and charisma that won't stop.” –Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

“‘The Manchurian Candidate’ marks a splendid return to form for Demme... this ‘Manchurian Candidate’s’ most relevant theme is its anxiety about brainwashing, a fear that makes perfect sense in an era of inescapable media messages, mood-altering drugs, and microchips implanted in the human body...Streep is an extraordinarily witty actress who can deliver a good line like a stiletto through the ribs...There may be no more splendidly ruthless moment in a movie this year than when Senator Shaw explains the facts of life to her son. ‘The assassin always dies, baby,’ she says. ‘It’s necessary for the national healing.’” --John Powers, LA Weekly

“There's a level of cynicism here that is scarier than the Red Chinese villains in John Frankenheimer's 1962 classic. It's a stretch to imagine a communist takeover of America, but the idea that corporations may be subverting the democratic process is plausible in the age of Enron...Demme sticks his knife in everywhere, suggesting that the whole system and both parties have been compromised by the power of corporations...Demme has taken a story we thought we knew and, while making its outlines mostly recognizable, rotated it into another dimension of conspiracy. Are corporations really a threat to America's security? The rotten ones are. When you consider that the phony California electric crisis, with its great cost in lives and fortune, was an act of corporate terrorism, he has a point.” --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"‘The Manchurian Candidate’ is a thunderbolt…Put it on a double bill with Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11' and it could galvanize voters, because this movie is as dismayed by the Bush administration as the original was by McCarthyism…‘The Manchurian Candidate’ unleashes its fury on an administration in bed with big business. If it does become a crossover hit, that crossover will be felt among blue states and red states alike.” --Jami Bernard, New York Daily News

“The first version had to make its female villain the wife of a United States senator, since the political game was even more male-dominated in 1962 than it is now -- but the remake can make her a senator herself. This streamlines the story, and tweaks audience curiosity as to whether the filmmakers had Hillary Rodham Clinton in the back of their minds... Demme's movie would be more engrossing if it weren't far too long (way over two hours) and if Meryl Streep and Liev Schreiber didn't seem so determined to ape Angela Lansbury and Laurence Harvey from the 1962 edition...Denzel Washington is stellar, though.” --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

“It’s a mesmerizing mind-teaser that finds its own way into the material...the menace this time is the mind control exerted by powerful corporations in the Halliburton-Tyco-Enron era. The climax, with an assassin holed up at a political convention, couldn't be timelier...Washington, in the rare part that leaves him trapped and defenseless, is terrifically affecting. And Schreiber catches both the cold snob and the lost boy in Raymond. Streep stands playfully outside the monster-mommy role, but you can't take your eyes off her as she terrorizes her pol cronies and casts lustful looks at her son...Still, this riveting film is marred by compromises -- such as a switch of assassins to create an unpersuasive upbeat ending -- that keep it in the shadow of its predecessor.” --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Audiences who don't keep harking back to the twists of the first will find it a head-spinning trip with an undercurrent of cynicism and mistrust that feels in sync with the times. And the cast really is superb…The magnificent Meryl Streep rips into her meaty part with a vengeance and a keen sense of humor, crunching cocktail ice like she means it and firing off salvos of derisive laughter. She's the only actress who could dare follow Angela Lansbury's legendary performance in the '62 film. ‘Candidate’ sags as it wends its way toward a confused climax and finishes with a completely unnecessary epilogue.” --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

“This is a work of passionate conviction. It has some of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’s’ fire in the belly, and an aura of tragedy to go with it. Beautifully made and unsurpassingly creepy, it's the rare remake with something contemporary to add...No, this isn't the twisted, sexy, tragicomic stick of dynamite that Frankenheimer gave us in 1962. It's more like a toxin that eats at you slowly from within. In more ways than one, it's the Gulf War Syndrome goes to the movies.” --David Edelstein, Slate

“They've done a great job of updating ‘The Manchurian Candidate’... Everything from manipulation of electronic voting machines to meal providers price-gouging our troops is registered over an incessant background media babble...Yet the new film still suffers from the slickness that kept the original just this side of greatness. Maybe a story so steeped in dehumanization and manipulation just can't help coming off cold, regardless of how many hot buttons it pushes.” –Bob Strauss, LA Daily News