Clandestine thrillers often work to affect the audience’s view of the world we live in. The Manchurian Candidate is certainly no different. This re-make starring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, and Meryl Streep takes place in a current election year, but the heart of the story is based on an event during the 1991 American invasion of Iraq (Desert Storm).
Washington’s character, Captain Bennett Marco, is the leader of a band of men who are ambushed at night in the middle of the desert. Marco is incapacitated, but his second-in-command, Sergeant Raymond Shaw, played by Schreiber, is able to get behind one of their big guns and save everybody. Shaw is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and becomes a war hero.
It is a decade later, and the hero has moved on into politics. His mother, played by Streep, is a powerful member of Congress, and now Shaw is running for Vice President of the country. The other survivors, including Marco, are all in different walks of life, but they all are suffering the same nightmares. After a former soldier approaches Marco and tells him about his own nightmares, Marco becomes suspicious and begins to investigate. When that soldier commits suicide, Marco looks closer at the notebook journal that the soldier had kept about his nightmares.
As the film unfolds, the audience discovers the true source of the bad dreams. They also find out exactly how nasty blind ambition can be. Even while watching, viewers discover that what they see can be misleading, and the end of the film leaves you in a daze.
Extras on the DVD include commentary, a making-of featurette, a featurette about the cast, deleted scenes and more.
GRADE: B (movie) A (DVD)