Serving together in the Persian Gulf War, Captain Bennett Marco and Sgt. Raymond Shaw were part of a platoon of soldiers kidnapped and brainwashed. Ten years later, Shaw gears up for his vice presidential campaign while Marco eventually remembers being kidnapped and discovers Shaw's powerful mother played a big part in that scheme. Determined to reveal the truth behind everything, Marco must first convince Shaw that the brainwashing really happened.
The Manchurian Candidate, a classic of paranoid cinema from the 1960s, gets a cunning update, rife with hot-topic references to corporate war profiteering and electronic voting machines. Major Ben Marco (Denzel Washington, Training Day) has been haunted by nightmares ever since a firefight during the first Gulf War--a battle in which he believes he was saved by the heroism of Sgt. Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber, Kate & Leopold). But Marco's nightmares suggest otherwise and drive him to investigate what happened, which may threaten Shaw's candidacy for vice-president. Meryl Streep plays Shaw's mother, a senior senator who manipulates everyone around her with an iron will and a sharp tongue. The Manchurian Candidate loses steam towards the end, but up until then director Jonathan Demme keeps the movie rolling fluidly, crafting some creepy paranoia of his own while Streep tears into everything in her path. --Bret Fetzer
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