The Manchurian Candidate 0.0 stars

Manchurian Candidate movie poster

Jonathan Demme's ill-advised remake. The main point to be made about the 1962 original is that, with its historical co-ordinates of McCarthyism, the Cold War, and the Yellow Peril, it dates rather badly, and thus cries out for a major overhaul. But while the John Frankenheimer version — positing a Right Wing political movement as a clever disguise for Chinese Communists — may have seemed ridiculous beyond repair, the remake demonstrates that even if the material could not be repaired, it could still be made more ridiculous: more science-fictional, more nonsensical, yet more portentous and ponderous at the same time. The Korea of 1951 has now given way to the Kuwait of 1991, and inasmuch as Muslims are not so notorious as the Communists as infiltrators and brainwashers, we will need a new villain. And here we have one: a war-profiteering Halliburton-like corporation inexplicably and inconceivably called Manchurian Global. One of the most withering remarks possible about a piece of science fiction is that events in the real world have already passed it by. And to suggest in this case that a Vice Presidential nominee might be a puppet of big business hardly removes us to the realm of science fiction, and hardly necessitates the intervention of behavior-controlling electronic implants in the brain and on the shoulder blade. We have already got a Vice President like that, and we have no reason to suppose he is acting on anything other than free will. Nor is the current President perceived to be so hostile to the next-in-line's ideology that only a sniper's bullet could clear the way. Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep, Kimberly Elise, Jon Voight. 2004.

Duncan Shepherd

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