(Review originally written at 14 February 2006)

"The Manchurian Candidate" is one of those movies that had lots of potential but in the ending it all falls flat. Of course it can't hold a candle to the original version from 1962 but also on its own this movie is a disappointing one that is highly unbelievable to watch.

Problem with the movie is that it never does succeed in creating the right mood and setting the correct atmosphere and tone. The thriller and supernatural-thriller elements of the movie don't blend in with each other. The movie is meant to be realistic but the supernatural-thriller elements of the movie are weird and not very well constructed in the story. That makes the movie an highly unlikely and unbelievable one, perhaps even a silly one at times. Also the confusing plot contributes to this. Lot's of subplot-lines are abandoned halfway through the movie and the movie in the long run provides more questions than answers. It makes the movie a very unsatisfying one to watch. Also the movie is dragging at points when the movie and story don't really seem to go anywhere. There are lots of characters in the movie but quite a few could had been left out to avoid confusion. The movie never really becomes tense or mysterious and could had really used a paranoid sort of atmosphere to add some more to the tension and atmosphere of the movie.

The movie is simply not very well constructed and the style is severely lacking. The cinematography by Tak Fujimoto is fine but it really is the bleak directing by Jonathan Demme that kills the movie. Guess he just wasn't the right man for the job because we all know that Demme is capable of making some good movies like he showed previous to this movie with "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Philadelphia". I'm convinced that another director like Brian De Palma or Neil Jordan, who were also both considered for directing this movie, would had done more good with the movie its story and concept.

The movie is still slightly better than a passable thriller thanks to it's cast. Denzel Washington is a great main lead but really magnificent was Meryl Streep. Wow, that woman can act. Another solid role is being portrayed by Bruno Ganz.

It of course still is a watchable movie but overall it's still a slightly disappointing one, due to its lacking atmosphere and tension, plus the fact that the movie leaves more questions than answers.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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