“I started with nightmares. Rumors and conjecture? That’s a giant leap forward.”
When the original version of The Manchurian Candidate was made in the 60s, it was built on espionage and intrigue and undercover spy games, but in a quaint, Cold War way, it was a lot more out in the open. Sure, everyone was trying to be covert, but it was a time, and a movie, where the sides were very easily identifiable. And even while their actions and tactics may have been top secret, their goals were right there in the open. So when someone (for no apparent that reason I can see) decided to remake The Manchurian Candidate, they needed to replace the Cold War with something a little more relevant to the new millennium. And it’s those attempts at modernisation that lead to the best and worst parts of the 2004 retelling.
After single handedly saving his unit from an ambush attack in Iraq, Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) is given a Congressional Medal of Honor. Welcomed home a hero, his overbearing Senator mother (Meryl Streep as Eleanor) pulls stings to make him a vice presidential candidate. At the same time, Shaw’s commanding officer from the Iraq incident, Ben Marco (Denzel Washington) starts to have a recurring dream. A dream in which him and his platoon are being brain washed and hypnotised, a dream in which Shaw kills an officer who has since been remembered as a casualty of the ambush. (more…)