The Manchurian Candidate (2004 film)

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The Manchurian Candidate
The Manchurian Candidate poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Daniel Pyne
  • Dean Georgaris
Based on The Manchurian Candidate 
by Richard Condon
Music by Rachel Portman
Cinematography Tak Fujimoto
Edited by
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • July 30, 2004 (2004-07-30)
Running time
130 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $80 million
Box office $96,105,964

The Manchurian Candidate is a 2004 American thriller film directed by Jonathan Demme. The film, based on Richard Condon's 1959 novel of the same name and a re-imagining of the previous 1962 film, stars Denzel Washington as Bennett Marco, a tenacious, virtuous soldier; Liev Schreiber as Raymond Shaw, a U.S. Representative from New York, manipulated into becoming a vice-presidential candidate; Jon Voight as U.S. Senator Tom Jordan, a challenger for vice president; and Meryl Streep as Eleanor Prentiss Shaw, also a U.S. Senator and the manipulative, ruthless mother of Raymond Shaw.


Major Bennett "Ben" Marco is a war veteran who begins to doubt what is commonly known about his famous U.S. Army unit. During the Gulf War, Sergeant First Class Raymond Shaw supposedly rescued all but two members in his unit, of which Marco was the commanding officer. Shaw became a war hero and was awarded the Medal of Honor, launching his political career.

Years later, one of Marco's former NCOs, Corporal Al Melvin, contacts him and says that he suffers from confusing memories and "dreams" about their lost Army unit. He is clearly deranged, but he shows Marco some images he has drawn from his dreams.

Shaw, now a U.S. Congressman, becomes his party's candidate for Vice President after his mother, Virginia U.S. Senator Eleanor Prentiss, pressures party leaders into passing over their intended pick, U.S. Senator Tom Jordan. A rivalry exists between Eleanor and Jordan, partly due to a past relationship between Shaw and Jordan's daughter Jocelyne. That evening, Marco has a nightmare in which he is being held captive and brainwashed along with his fellow soldiers.

After Shaw is nominated, Marco begins investigating what really happened during the war. He finds an implant in his back and, soon there after, one in Shaw's after a confrontation at campaign headquarters. After having the one taken from Shaw analyzed, Marco realizes that it is a nanotechnological experiment connected with Manchurian Global, a powerful private equity firm with major political connections. Marco researches Manchurian and recognizes Atticus Noyle, a former Manchurian geneticist-turned-mercenary, from one of his nightmares. Marco brings his findings to the attention of Jordan, who, although he doesn't entirely believe the story, confronts the Shaws and suggests that Raymond bow out from the campaign. Instead, Eleanor "activates" Raymond and orders him to kill Jordan. Jocelyne is also killed when she tries to stop an entranced Raymond.

With the help of the FBI, Marco arranges a private meeting with Shaw on Election Day, and tries to convince Shaw of what is happening to him. Shaw seems to agree, and gives Marco his Medal of Honor, which he says he does not deserve. Raymond receives a phone call from Eleanor, who activates Marco with the intention of having him assassinate the President-Elect and giving Raymond the presidency by default. Raymond and Marco resist their conditioning to remain in a lucid state of mind. At the election party, Raymond shares a dance with Eleanor on-stage, which allows Marco to kill them both. Just before Marco can kill himself, FBI Agent Eugenie "Rosie" Rose stops him by shooting him in the shoulder.

The FBI covers up Marco's involvement, framing a deceased Manchurian Global contractor for the shooting. In the last scene, Rosie takes Marco to the compound where he was conditioned, apparently in conjunction with an FBI investigation. Marco now more clearly understands what has happened, and he lets the sea take away a picture of the "lost platoon" along with Shaw's Medal of Honor.




Tina Sinatra was a co-producer of the film. Her father Frank Sinatra portrayed Marco in the original 1962 film and owned that film's legal distribution rights into the late 1980s, never re-releasing it during that time. In the original, nationally released during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the premise was based on communists taking control; in this remake, big corporate influence serves as the "politically correct" evil, a twist to maintain the "Manchurian connection." The remake does not follow the original film's plot details on several occasions.


Critical response[edit]

The film received mostly positive reviews. Based on 201 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 81%, with an average score of 7.1/10.[2] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 76, based on 41 reviews.[3]

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote of Streep: "No one can talk about the acting in The Manchurian Candidate without rhapsodizing about Streep (in the role originated by Angela Lansbury). She has the Hillary hair and the Karen Hughes attack-dog energy, but the charm, the inspiration and the constant invention are her own. She gives us a senator who's a monomaniac, a mad mommy and master politician rolled into one, a woman firing on so many levels that no one can keep up – someone who loves being evil as much as Streep loves acting. She's a pleasure to watch and to marvel at every second she's onscreen."[4]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $65,955,630 in North America and $30,150,334 in other territories, totaling $96,105,964 worldwide.[5]


Year Award Category Recipient Result
2005 Saturn Award Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film The Manchurian Candidate Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Liev Schreiber Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
BAFTA Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Jeffrey Wright Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Kimberly Elise Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture Meryl Streep Nominated

See also[edit]


External links[edit]