The Manchurian Candidate (2004 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Manchurian Candidate (2004 film))
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Manchurian Candidate
The Manchurian Candidate poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJonathan Demme
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Daniel Pyne
  • Dean Georgaris
Based on
Music byRachel Portman
CinematographyTak Fujimoto
Edited by
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • July 30, 2004 (2004-07-30)
Running time
130 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$80 million
Box office$96.1 million[2]

The Manchurian Candidate is a 2004 American neo-noir[3] psychological political thriller film directed by Jonathan Demme.[4] The film, based on Richard Condon's 1959 novel of the same name and a re-working 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 (Denzel Washington) is a war veteran who commanded a famous U.S. Army raid during the 1991 Gulf War. For his role in that mission, Sergeant First Class Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) was awarded the Medal of Honor for single-handedly defeating the enemy and rescuing all but two of his men. Raymond has gone on to become a famous U.S. Congressman. Thanks to the influence of his mother, United States Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw of Virginia (Meryl Streep), Raymond is nominated as a candidate for vice president over the favorite, U.S. Senator Tom Jordan (Jon Voight). Raymond is withdrawn, but he opens up to his mother and to his childhood sweetheart, Jocelyn (Vera Farmiga); Jocelyn is the daughter of Sen. Jordan.

One of Marco's former soldiers, Corporal Al Melvin (Jeffrey Wright), contacts him and says that he experiences confusing memories and "dreams" about their lost army unit. He is clearly mentally ill, but he shows Marco some images he has drawn from his dreams. Marco begins to also have dreams about being captured on that raid, of being brainwashed by scientists led by a mysterious South African man (Simon McBurney), and of himself and Raymond murdering their fellow soldiers. Marco begins investigating what really happened during the war and travels to New York. A woman named Eugenie (Kimberly Elise), an outgoing supermarket clerk with whom Marco interacts frequently, sits with him on the train and ultimately offers him a place to stay.

As Marco investigates, after a confrontation at campaign headquarters, he discovers an implant in Raymond's back. After having the implant he took from the latter 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 Global and recognizes the South African man from his nightmares as Dr. Atticus Noyle, a former Manchurian geneticist-turned-mercenary. Marco brings his findings to the attention of Sen. Jordan. Although he doesn't entirely believe the story, Jordan confronts the Shaws and suggests that Raymond bow out of the campaign. Instead, Eleanor "activates" her son and orders him to kill Jordan. Jocelyn is also killed when she tries to stop an entranced Raymond.

Eugenie reveals herself to be an FBI employee. The FBI has been monitoring the conspiracy for years. The agency found an implant in Melvin, who—like all of Raymond and Marco's squadmates—died under mysterious circumstances. The FBI arranges a meeting between Marco and Raymond to convince the latter of his condition. The meeting takes place just as Governor Arthur and Raymond win the White House, and Raymond receives a phone call from his mother intended for Marco. Eleanor, who is deeply linked with Manchurian, uses trigger words to control Marco's mind, giving him commands to assassinate the President-elect so that Raymond can become President. Eleanor admits to her son that she voluntarily gave him to the brainwashers for the good of the country. However, the trauma of Jocelyn's death gives Raymond the strength to resist the mind control.

At the climactic moment, Raymond deliberately places himself between the entranced Marco and the President-elect. As Eugenie rushes through the celebration crowd trying to find Marco, Raymond looks up at the vent where Marco is and gives a nod of clearance to kill him. Raymond then dances with his mother and steers them both into the marked position, where Marco kills both of them with a single shot from his rifle. Marco prepares to kill himself, but Eugenie, who saw Raymond's nod, arrives and prevents him from harming himself by wounding him with a gunshot.

The FBI frames a deceased Manchurian Global contractor as the shooter. The Manchurian executives watch their entire conspiracy revealed on television but make no attempt to flee, knowing that the truth's exposure has left them nowhere to run. In the last scene of the film, Eugenie takes Marco to the compound on a remote island where he was conditioned. Reflecting on his time at the compound, Marco proceeds to drop a photo of his Army unit and Raymond's Medal of Honor into the sea.




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 (although it did air on network television several times). 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 evil faction, a twist to maintain the "Manchurian connection". The remake does not follow the original film's plot details on several occasions.


Box office[edit]

The film grossed $65,955,630 in North America and $30,150,334 in other territories, totaling $96,105,964 worldwide.[2]

Critical response[edit]

The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an 80% approval rating, based on 207 reviews, with an average rating of 7.11/10. The site's consensus reads, "While not the classic its predecessor is, this update is well-acted and conjures a chilling resonance".[5] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 76, based on 41 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[6]

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."[7]


Year Award Category Recipient(s) 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

Home video release[edit]

The film released on VHS and DVD on December 21, 2004.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 29, 2004. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "The Manchurian Candidate (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Ronald (2005). Neo-noir: The New Film Noir Style from Psycho to Collateral. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-8108-5676-9.
  4. ^ "The Manchurian Candidate". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  5. ^ "The Manchurian Candidate (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  6. ^ "The Manchurian Candidate reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  7. ^ LaSalle, Mick (July 30, 2004). "Terrorist attacks, corporate control, election controversy: Sound familiar? 'The Manchurian Candidate' has it all". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 27, 2013.

External links[edit]