The Contender movie poster
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The Contender Movie Review

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A couple of years ago the nation and the world watched as President Clinton faced impeachment charges, and by the end of the whole ordeal, they were bored out of their minds. So why would anyone be compelled to make a movie that deals with a high office politician being caught up in a sex scandal? Well, there are a lot of reasons mainly...

The Contender wants to show just how blatantly silly the whole involvement of a personal past in modern politics is. Obviously, the movie is fairly liberal, so Republicans might find themselves on Gary Oldman's side, whom tries his best to crush the contending Vice Presidential candidate Laine Hanson (Joan Allen). Still, whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, the movie makes a good point as to how far into people's lives the public has the right to hear.

The Contender has a good plot. The movie isn't as black and white as the previews make it out to be; it isn't about choosing the good man for the job; it is about choosing the lesser of evils for the job. Every politician in the movie, whether it be the President (Jeff Bridges) or Senator Hathaway (William Petersen), is manipulative and cunning at the same time. Laine Hanson, the protagonist of the film, is very upstanding with her morals, except for that she did do some pretty naughty things when she was younger.

The Contender has an all-star cast. As already mentioned, the movie stars Joan Allen (Face/Off, Pleasantville), Gary Oldman (Air Force One), Jeff Bridges (Arlington Road), and Christian Slater (Broken Arrow). The acting all around is excellent. Joan Allen delivers a very believable and upstanding performance, forced to deals with several different pressures at once. Jeff Bridges is the not-so-perfect but 'heroic' President who doesn't mind being partial about most things. Oldman gives us probably his best performance yet as the ruthless Republican senator bent on destroying Hanson. Not only has he been altered physically but he is just so incredible I wouldn't mind seeing his name on the list of Oscar nominations.

But, like most movies, The Contender does have some flaws. The movie lags and lurches, which means that it is inconsistent in pace. Sometimes the film is incredibly cunning, and at other times it can be a little boring. Some people have complained about the script, but I didn't really notice anything wrong with it.

My biggest complaint actually ends up helping the film. The last half hour of the film really loses steam, and within ten minutes of the conclusion of the film I was really started to wonder what this movie is supposed to be. And then, suddenly, it picks up a gigantic boost and surges to the end, pulling everything together perfectly. The scene where the President addresses everyone is just brilliant.

The Contender is a well done political drama, even if it is a little inconsistent. Whether the script is good or bad, there are definitely some possible Oscar contenders in the cast.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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