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Others have done an excellent job of providing a plot summary, so I will spare you the repetition. I want to address some of the reviews that have bashed the movie for being "totally unrealistic" or "biased," especially those who explicitly state their "liberal" leanings.
First, "The Contender" makes no claims to be "objective," nor should the movie be judged by a "realisitic" litmus test. Yes, the movie is polemical. It makes no bones about its leanings. Personally, I don't think this should be grounds for dismissing the movie. I found the movie incredibly refreshing for 1) providing a critical, and cutting, progressive critique of the "culture wars" that dominate so much of our public, political discourse; 2) by not being limited by the demands of being "realistic," "The Contender" gives us a glimpse of the possibility of public discourse, grounded in the SPIRIT of the US Constitution and representative democracy. Too often political thrillers limit themselves to the intrigue of negotiating and manipulating the strings of bureaucratic power within the terms of that power. By contrast, "The Contender" asks "what if?" That is, what would it look like for someone to act on an ethical basis? What would it mean to stand on principle?
When I first watched "The Contender," I didn't really know the details of the movie, and was frankly looking for something that would be fun to watch. I love the genre of political thrillers, but I also don't expect much beyond the demands of the genre (Patterson and Grisham have really dominated how political thrillers are brought to the screen).Read more ›
This triggers a visceral reaction from Republican Senator Shelly Runyon of Illinois, played by Gary Oldman, who wants to see the passed over candidate, Governor Jack Hathaway, played by William Petersen, get the nod instead of her. As the chairman of the confirmation committee, there is only one thing for him to do--destroy her. Along the way, he enlists the help of a junior Democrat Congressman, Reginald Webster, played by Christian Slater who opposes her nomination for more idealistic reasons. The hearings provide the drama, and the camera takes us to the president, the hearings, the investigation by the FBI, and back to the hearings again. This keeps the story moving at a decent pace, and builds the suspense.
What makes this so good for me is that there are many scenes that I would be willing to see over again, but not all. After all, this is not "The Godfather." Should you see this, please go back to the beginning and note the governor's behavior and movement, and what the first woman in the story mouths to him.
The acting is superb. Senator Runyon reveals a sinister character who has fallen somewhere in the past from the idealistic and moral person his wife married. She sees, with dismay, the change that he does not realize. He plays his part with precise timing, speaking, halting, looking, waiting, baiting, only lacking the accent so identifiable of his home state.Read more ›
The film is liberal and Democratic, and the protagonist conservative and Republican. It appears that this film shows a feminine side of 'a sex scandal'. A Vice President has died in office, and after three weeks, the country is clam outing for a replacement. The President, played by Jeff Bridges has several choices. One is a governor who has become a hero by trying to save a drowning woman from a car accident. The problem is, the President tells Gov. Hathaway, played by William Petersen, is that the woman died. Sorry, next. sen. Laine Hanson, played by Joan Allen, is the perfect candidate until a sex scandal tries to derail her. GOP Rep. Shelly Runyon, played by Gary Oldman, in a remarkable performance does not like women in power and will use whatever device he can to bring her down. Old an plays this powerful character, either eating, drinking or smoking. And, his curly hair trying to hide a bald spot is the best I have seen. His is the performance to watch.
The mechanisms that run DC are very powerful in this film. All the deals and lies and deceit pike up except for Sen. Hanson, who will not play games nor lie. Is this the real DC, I very much doubt it, but I enjoyed this film. This is a film to observe actors, the political scheme may detract you, but go for the action and the performances.
Recommended. prisrob 10-13-14
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful film full of great performances. Loved Gary Oldman in it!Published 2 months ago by Renato Guerini
I love this movie. Really interesting plot and great actorsPublished 3 months ago by Barbara Feinstein
Affirmation that politics is a dirty business. Good movie though with superb character performances.Published 9 months ago by Terry Harris
Very good movie and In my opinion it didn't stray far from the present day political scenario.Published 10 months ago by JerryL1042