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The Manchurian Candidate

Genre: Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Starring: Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight
Released by: Paramount Pictures

In Short: Far fetched but plausible—and interesting timing. This thriller is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, especially as the last 20 minutes mount into a crescendo.

Once Unbelievable, Now Plausible

A political thriller for the political season. It' s not by chance that the release date for "The Manchurian Candidate" coincided with the Democratic National Convention. There are no coincidences in Hollywood. This updated version of the 1962 classic stars Denzel Washington as U.S. Army Major Bennett Marco (a man suspicious of the goings on in the White House) in the role originally played by Frank Sinatra.

The film reunites Washington with director Jonathan Demme, who snagged an Academy Award on their "Philadelphia" collaboration. Demme, who is no stranger to creepy characters (we all remember Hannibal Lecter), does his best at showing us the ghoulish goons pulling the strings at the White House.

In the film the enemy is Manchurian Global, a monolithic corporation that wants to control the government by putting its own custom-made vice president, convincingly played by Liev Schreiber, into office. Enter Meryl Streep, whose intoxicating portrayal of the soon to be VP's controlling, whacked out senator/stage mom, is sure to be remembered come Oscar time...and then of course there's Mr. Washington who, brilliantly and ever so effortlessly, takes the viewers inside his dark, paranoid world of confusion...which we soon discover is the result of his having been brainwashed. Jon Voight rounds out the illustrious cast as the good-guy politician. Good guys and politics don't least not in this flick.

"The Manchurian Candidate" wins our vote, as does Demme, whose sense of intrigue and suspense makes this remake one of the most frightening non-horror genre films we have seen. The story may be far-fetched, but in this day and age it's very plausible.

(Updated: 09/28/06)

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