View Full Version : Reviews: The Contender
11-16-2001, 02:35 PM
JoBlo's 8/10 review of THE CONTENDER can be found here: http://www.joblo.com/contender.htm
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03-31-2003, 07:09 PM
Written and directed by Rod Lurie
Produced by Willi Bär, Marc Frydman, James Spies, and Douglas Urbanski
Starring: Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Gary Oldman, Sam Elliott, Christian Slater, Robin Thomas, Mike Binder, William Petersen
Plot: After the U.S. vice-president dies, the president (Bridges) appoints a female senator (Allen) to serve as his sucessor. However, a slimy congressman (Oldman) plots her downfall by ensnaring her in a sex scandal. She refuses to respond to the allegations, but how long can she continue to brush it off?
Critique: I found this political drama disappointing. After Roger Ebert awarded the film a four-star rating, I expected a more engaging movie than this. The plodding storyline rarely grabbed my attention, though it has its moments. Joan Allen's strong performance helps to make this at least watchable. She plays a believable, intelligent woman determined to do the right thing no matter what people think of her. Likewise, Gary Oldman is appropiately creepy as the dirty politican willing to completely disregard ethics to advance his personal agenda. I just wish they had better material to work with. The supporting performances are adequate, nothing more.
Still, there are some compelling scenes when Allen faces Oldman's accusations during hearings, as she braves the odds to stand up for her principles. This is one of the few times that the film is truly focused and energetic, hinting at what a much better movie The Contender should have been. It doesn't really take any chances, and I can't help but wonder what someone like Oliver Stone would have done with the same ideas. Heck, even Mike Nichols (Primary Colors) would have at least made a more engaging film.
Note: Oldman was one of the executive producers.
My rating: 6/10 or (**1/2)
04-01-2003, 04:59 PM
The Contender - 2/10
This movie sucked, and in the worst possible way. The poster give an intriguing description - "Sometimes, you can assassinate a leader without firing a shot..." Well, about halfway into this piece of political garbage, I was ready to fire a shot at most of the people involved in it.
For starters, the movie was very long, slow-paced, and featured a cache of uninteresting and unknown actors. It had a decent opening involving the death of the vice-president, but after that nothing really happened except for a purely pro-democratic stance.
This is where I got to absolutely HATE the movie - It spent its entire running time portraying democrats as heroes and republicans as villians. Why is it that as long as your left-wing, you can do all the wrong you want here, but if you're right-wing then you deserve to be hanged!! It's full of democratic propaganda .. including abortion .. which, being pro-life I have a pretty sore spot about that sort of thing in the first place. Of course the outcome is that democracy wins and replicans are evil.
Mainly, this seems to be the movie that democrats will all give a "thumbs up" to .. but republicans are sure to snarl at. It doesn't give insight into anything as far as I'm concerned and I regret even watching it on video.
Liberal Hollywood wishful thinking propaganda masquerading as an important film with serious issues....I'm surprised Rob Reiner didnt direct this turd.....
No offense to turds...
04-17-2003, 02:14 PM
The Contender: 7/10
Rod Lurie’s The Contender begins with a bang when a car drives over a pier and into the water where Governor Jack Hathaway (William L. Petersen) is fishing. He tries to save her but fails. Meanwhile, President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges) needs to appoint a vice president, since his just died. He’s been in office for six-and-a-half years, and will appoint one as a “swan song”. So, after Hathaway’s act of heroism, he seems like a shoo-in, right? Nope, since Evans is thinking of appointing Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen), much to the dismay of many, including Representative Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman).
Runyon and others don’t want a female vice president, so they go and try to dig up dirt about Hanson’s past. They finally conjure up a shocking sex thing from college. Rather than admit it, Hanson says that it isn’t appropriate and “nobody would care how many people a man had sex with in college.”
The Contender is an enthralling political mystery. It takes many twists and turns that you wouldn’t expect. The ending is a nice but low-key slap-in-the-face, with it trying to squeeze a moral into it somewhere. Where most political movies have flaws, this one does, also. First off, they throw in too many characters for their own good. Not having enough is a problem, but too many is worse, because it will confuse, and ultimately bore, your viewers. I’m not saying, in any way, that The Contender is boring, but if they had toned down on the number of characters it would have been better.
I thought Allen was great-she displayed the right amount of sensitivity, and cunning, that this role needed. She may not be the largest name in Hollywood, but she is a respected actress. Oldman was great, also-I thought he looks somewhat like Woody Allen (*sheepish grin*). His vileness seemed true. Bridges took off from his normal comedic-type roles (although he did have a few funny parts), and also displayed talent.
Christian Slater played a role of Representative Webster, someone who seemed to get very involved in the whole scandal. Slater, to me, seems like a man whose name I know of and I know has been around for a while but I haven’t actually seen a movie with him. Now that isn’t true. I enjoyed him in this role. The intelligent script (written by the director), which, at first, seems simple, snowballs into directions you wouldn’t expect, and it’s fun (I guess you could say).
I read that directed Lurie was an atheist, which he incorporated into the movie (Hanson is one). While I respect his decision, I thought it was kind of shameless promotion (not the best words). You can see how this situation parallels the government of today. You can actually feel for Hanson, which I was glad for, because for movies like this you need to get into the characters. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that with supporting ones. There’s some dude named Kermit, and Saul Rubinek is some government person. But who? Don’t ask me.
The Contender is a very interesting and entertaining movie not without flaws but is still enjoyable.
04-26-2004, 10:21 PM
"The Contender" is an elegantly made film that gives you a glimpse into the nominating process of a Vice-President. It's a political film, but more than that a film about equal rights among the sexes, and how far one woman would go to protect these rights. Joan Allen did a terrific job of conveying her dignity and grace under fire and deserved to be nominated for best actress Oscar. Jeff Bridges was a riot as the President who cared just as much for the pert of ordering whatever food he wanted as being President. Gary Oldman was hardly recognizable physically and was a standout acting wise as Allen's adversary to let no woman be a Vice-Pres. I enjoyed the twists and turns of the story and all aspects of the film (music, screenplay, cinematography, acting) were a class act. My rating is B+ or 8/10 stars.
04-27-2004, 11:43 PM
The Contender- 3/10
Oh what a pile of piss. The writer/director must really think we're a bunch of blind sheep who've never strayed away from the pedantic pedagogy of Ivy League professors, the New York Times, MTV and the liberal news media. Frankly, I'm not surprised that the lefty-friendly network known as Dreamworks financed this pile of elephant dung.
Sure, it had some snappy dialogue, nice performances, and some good casting; but c'mon- how could you not see the blatant endorsement of liberal bullshit politics?!? And honestly, I'm a little disappointed in the usually sharp Gary Oldman(who pulled off such a fine performance) in not seeing the inherent corrosive qualities in this tale(since he helped to bankroll it). I'm sure Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges didn't lose any sleep on any type of bias unearthed here.
But I haven't seen a more heinous example of leftist/socialist/collectivist propaganda in a long time. That ending really makes me want to spew. And while I've heard that Arlington Road is an even worse movie in this vein(with the contributions of the very politically proud liberal Tim Robbins), I won't be seeing that or Primary Colors anytime soon.
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