The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

manchurian contract poster 2004 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Solid adaptation

Didn't need to be made again

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Manchurian Candidate

Studio:  Paramount Pictures/Scott Rudin Productions/Clinica Estetico

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):   July 19, 2004 (Premiere)/July 30, 2004 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

manchurian candidate raymond shaw ben marco denzel washington liev schreiber

Sooo…I’ve got a couple questions about the mission we had

Gulf War hero Raymond Prentis Shaw (Liev Schreiber) is now on the ticket as the running mate for Vice President of the United States.  The son of outspoken Senator Eleanor Prentis Shaw (Meryl Streep), Raymond is a shining light in the political party…but he also has a dark secret that he doesn’t even know about.  Major Bennett Marco (Denzel Washington) is his former military commander and he has strange memories of the mission that made Raymond a hero.  Something is surfacing in Marco memories, and it is terrifying, and the danger could be real.

Directed by Jonathan Demme, The Manchurian Candidate is a political thriller.  The movie is an adaptation of the 1959 novel by Richard Condon that was previously adapted in 1962 by George Axelrod.  The film received positive reviews.

manchurian candidate hypnosis murder liev schreiber

I’m sorry…I just said Scream 3 wasn’t that good…please don’t kill me!

I loved The Manchurian Candidate…the original one.  Like many, I didn’t feel that the movie really needed to be remade, but it was a solid remake.  Demme does good stuff, but I wish that he had just picked another original story.

The film is modernized which it needed to be.  If it had been a period piece, there really would be no need for a remake, but the post 9-11 world provided a ripe location for paranoia and corporate espionage.  The strength of the movie is the story, so following the story with some smart tweaks (including the ending) does automatically lend itself to being a strong adaptation…and it doesn’t hurt that it has a great cast.

The film has always had a strange dual leading role.  While Denzel Washington is the star of the film (though he’s played as more unstable than Frank Sinatra…and deemed as crazy), a lot of the credit has to go to Liev Schreiber who is struggling with his shattered memories as well.  If Shaw was a bad guy, it would be easier to hate him…but he is a victim as well.  The juicy role is Raymond’s mother who here is played by Meryl Streep.  She is portrayed as kind of a right wing version of Hillary Clinton who will stop at nothing to see her son get in power.

manchurian candidate meryl streep mother

Mommy Dearest

The movie looks good.  Demme has a look and quality to his films and though the movie is a remake, it is a good Demme themed movie.  He does well with crime and thrillers, and The Manchurian Candidate qualifies as both.  The movie does a good job building suspense.

If you want to see The Manchurian Candidate, see the original Manchurian Candidate first.  If you are a fan of Denzel, it is a decent Denzel film, but once again, there are better films by Denzel and the cast.  The Manchurian Candidate still works because it is a terrifying story and though sci-fi, it still feels very real…and unfortunately possible.  What is scary is that now, people don’t seem to need to the programming…people can just say it and they’ll believe.

Related Links:

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response