The Contender

2000

Drama / Thriller

0
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 76%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 73%
IMDb Rating 6.9 10 22334

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN

Director

Cast

Gary Oldman as Shelly Runyon
Sam Elliott as Kermit Newman
Christian Slater as Reginald Webster
Jeff Bridges as President Jackson Evans

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Movie-12 9 / 10

Riveting performances and a thought-provoking story. One of the best movies of the year. **** (out of four)

THE CONTENDER / (2000) **** (out of four)

After our recent presidential conflicts, Rod Lurie's political drama, "The Contender" is of the most timely and uncommonly absorbing movies this year, even though we may be sick and tired of politics. The film examines political figures and their stand of such controversial issues like abortion, infidelities, and even Clinton's impeachment trial, making this production feel real, as if a behind the scenes look at a sex scandal in Washington DC because it is so well written and portrayed. Interlaced with much thought-provoking material and Academy Award worthy performances, "The Contender" is one of the best pictures of the year.

As the film opens, the country's vice president has recently died, leaving Democratic President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges), who is near the end of his final term, choosing a vice president for replacement. Although he recently bared his courage in a failed attempt to save a woman from drowning, Governor Jack Hathaway (William L. Peterson) is turned down by President Evens. Instead, Evens wants to leave a legacy by selecting a woman as vice president, thus chooses a Senator who currently shifted from the Republican party to the Democratic party, Laine Hanson (Joan Allen). The Republican confirmation committee chairman, Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman), thinks Evans' choice to be self-dignified and inaccurate, and desires Hathaway to take the place of the vice president.

"The Contender" begins on a strong note, only displaying the necessary events. We do not witness the death of the original vice-president because it is not important. We do get to see the heroic action of Governor Hathaway, however, squarely because this event, concluding with a shocking twist, plays a vital role in the movie at a later time. Through brilliant directing and editing, the story provides an increasing amount of tension within the characters, especially the Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges characters.

In a cruel attempt to prove the insecurities of the vice-presidential candidate, Runyon uncovers information that places Hanson's morality in question. The situation is whether or not she participated in public sex with two men (at the same time) while 19 years of age in college. The information is leaked to the press, while Runyon uses the discussion to bring the subject in the hearings. "What I say the American people will believe. And do you know why? Because I will have a very big microphone in front of me," states Runyon. The democrats are extremely weary over this case because 1) they know Runyon's statement is true and 2) Hanson refuses to acknowledge anything regarding her alleged sexual adventures. Even so, the president supports his candidate.

The movie succeeds with its accurate and involving performances. Joan Allen is Award material in a performance that is tense, taut, and engaging. Christian Slater is frantic and energetic as a novice reporter. Jeff Bridges is entirely convincing as the President of the United States. His prestige is convincing and he exhibits a powerful, detailed attitude, resulting in a superb performance. Gary Oldman is perfect with a sly, cunningly cocky and self-confident performance that fits his character extremely well; there is a very real possbility his work will be remembered come Academy Award time.

"The Contender" succeeds to a high degree because it makes us to examine our own beliefs and possible reactions to such a pragmatic issue; would we, as individuals, want a vice-president who is a sleaze ball, or as a character puts it "with a mouth full of c*ck." What makes the film even more extraordinarily enthralling is that it never until the end reveals whether Laine actually did participate in the immoral acts. This is a very thought-provoking story, full of surprising twists and a meaningful message.

Reviewed by Travis_Bickle01 9 / 10

Pleasant surprise, excellent performances

Excellent political thriller-drama with a great cast which certainly delivered. The story isn't very original, but that doesn't bother. Jeff Bridges was very good and funny as the president of the United States. He was always very relaxed and human during his role. The attitude, the way of thinking, the nonchalance... it made his performance quite amazing. Jeff Bridges is one of my favourite actors. He capable of playing every role. Be honest, who would have thought "the dude" would make an excellent president as well?

Furthermore I loved Joan Allen's and Gary Oldman's performance as well. Both were excellent. As well as Christian Slater playing the young idealist. "The Contender" certainly deserves this rating and I'm convinced it even deserves a higher rating, something like 7.3.

"The Contender" is political thriller-drama which is certainly worth watching. Although this movie doesn't want to make a certain (moral) statement, I loved the following quote by Joan Allen's character: "Principles only mean something when you stick to them when its inconvenient."

9/10

Reviewed by Geofbob 8 / 10

Where Lewinsky meets Lebowski

This may not be the greatest White House movie thriller ever - as its makers claim - but it is probably the most politically explicit. Gone are the days of Advise and Consent, when the opposing parties were simply referred to as the "majority" and "minority", and the movie aimed at non-partisan neutrality . Here, the administration is Democrat, and the film proudly wears its liberal heart on its sleeve. And the movie is all the better for this clarity and honesty.

Jeff Bridges is well cast as Jackson Evans, a President every bit as charismatic and opportunistic as Bill Clinton. Indeed, the whole movie can be seen as a take on the Monica Lewinsky saga, highlighting the manipulation and hypocrisy displayed on all sides at that time. (One mistake in the script is a direct reference to the Clinton impeachment vote; it is dangerous for parodies or satires to refer to the true stories on which they are based - it leads to a dislocation in the audience's point of view, and in this case to the awkward question - if this is a post-Clinton Democrat President, and he's coming to the end of his second term, in just what year is the action supposed to be taking place?!)

Given the White House shenanigans in recent years, it is surprising that some IMDb commenters should question the plausibility of the plot, which I feel stretches our credulity no further than most Hollywood thrillers. Joan Allen as vice-Presidential nominee Laine Hanson, and Gary Oldman as Shelly Runyon, her would-be character assassin, have strong parts and make the most of them - though personally I think it is Bridges' movie - but there is perhaps a little too much of Christian Slater in a curious role as Reginald Webster, a young, liberal, but seemingly anti-feminist, Democrat Congressman. The director, Rod Lurie, seems unable to make up his mind whether Webster should be portrayed as an overly-naive idealist, or an ambitious cynic with his eye on the main chance.

Overall, this is a fast-moving, enjoyable film, making the points that petty personal indiscretions should have little influence when it comes to power politics, and that it's about time the USA had a woman as President or at least a heart beat away.

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