The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

  • Review Date: December 21, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 130 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sleek remake is more violent than original.
  • Review Date: December 21, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 130 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Loyalty, patriotism, service, bravery, and honesty are all positive themes in the movie that is critical of political machinations.

Positive role models

The main character is driven to uncover the truth out of a sense of loyalty and patriotism.

Violence

Intense and graphic violence, battle violence, characters in peril, several murders, lab animals mistreated.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Some strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking, smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Manchurian Candidate is a thriller with intense and graphic violence, including many murders (gunshot, strangling, drowning) and injuries. Characters drink, smoke, and use drugs. There's some very strong language. A strength of the movie is its portrayal of strong, intelligent, loyal, and capable citizens.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

As in the original 1962 film, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE focuses on soldier Ben Marco (Denzel Washington), who is haunted by nightmares of serving in the Persian Gulf War. Marco knows the story of the incident that got him his medal. Everyone who was there uses the same words to tell the story and especially to describe Raymond Shaw (Liev Shreiber), who got the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery. Marco meets up with a member of the platoon who is badly damaged. Is it post-traumatic stress, or is it his brain fighting back from something it has been programmed to believe? Meanwhile, Shaw is struggling as well. Being a war hero helped him be elected to Congress and he's now a contender for the vice-presidential candidacy. His mother (Meryl Streep), a Senator, is pushing him very hard. He resents it, but cannot seem to resist. The senator purrs, seduces, and finally brutalizes a group of politicos into abandoning their choice for the VP spot and taking Raymond instead. But Marco is increasingly troubled. Shaw is at first glad to see him again, then sympathetic, then skeptical. What Marco is suggesting seems absurd, impossible. But in his heart, Shaw knows that it might explain everything.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This sleek and supple thriller features powerhouse performances, but never quite persuades us that it has anything to add to the Cold War classic starring Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury. Director Jonathan Demme ably creates a believably creepy atmosphere and there are some great visual effects, especially Shaw's hotel room, which includes an infinitely refractive illusion in a picture that hangs over the bed. Streep is mesmerizing.

But some of it gets overheated, especially a mad scientist who of course has an English accent and is scrupulously polite and a murder assignment that makes no sense as a matter of logistics. And the big reveal about the bad guys does not have the same punch of the original; it is not as successful at tapping into the fears of the moment.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this movie compares to the original and how each film is a reflection of its times. Marco says, "I thought I knew who the enemy was." Who was the enemy? What does the choice of bad guy tell us? Is an "emotionally compromised past" a "terrible burden" from which someone must be freed?

  • How does this remake compare to the original? How are the issues of the 1950s different than the issues of the 2000s? How are they similar?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 29, 2004
DVD release date:December 21, 2004
Cast:Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep
Director:Jonathan Demme
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Drama
Run time:130 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence and some language

This review of The Manchurian Candidate (2004) was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written byfatcatmikez April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Not that good...

There really isn't anything bad in this movie exept violence. There are graphic killings. It's been over a year since i've seen it but I remember these graphic prison killings (one man is tied to a chair and suffocated by another man and it is shown graphicly). Violence dosen't bother me much, but this movie is graphic.
Adult Written byJohn from Westmont November 20, 2009
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

Skip it.

Overall, this movie is awful. It doesn't know whether to be a movie about policial intrigue, soldiers returning from war, or medical sci fi, and it's unconvincing at all of them. The violoence is gratuitous. many actions are unexplained or unexplainable, suggested incestual desires are at least distracting if not repugnant. Not even Meryl and Denzel could make this one work.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byabuddy8 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Disturbing, not worth the money.

I am 18 years old and went to see this movie thinking it was a political thriller. I was very wrong. The movie tells the story of Marco, a soldier who fought in Kuwait. Since the war, he has been haunted by dreams of what really happened, and is apparently on medication. The movie throws in several "twists" which seemed to be there only to make the audience jump and disturb them. The director focused on the gruesome, even showing in detail a very grotesque strangling, which should've been hinted at, or even left out completely. The characters left something to be desired, since you spent the whole movie trying to figure out who was crazy and who the bad guys were. I left this movie feeling sick, and wish I'd never spent the money.

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