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on 5 June 2017
Excellent film which I originally purchased years ago in video format. Superb performances from Garry Oldman and one of my favourite actors, Jeff Bridges. The price of the DVD was too good to be true.
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on 13 June 2017
ok movie
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on 11 April 2017
This time Gary Oldman is the British actor that speaks in an American accent, something I get very annoyed by as there are plenty of American actors to choose from.

But, we also have Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliott (without facial hair, looks odd!), Joan Allen, Christian Slater - and a plot to die for, extremely cleverly placed twists and turns. The performances are stellar, Bridges and Allen in particular are just brilliant. Their characters admittedly are not all that realistic, politicians with integrity are not that common especially in the White House. Bridges does a fantastic President, a fantastic speaker and a very clever operator and in some ways he with Allen drive the whole thing. Oldman plays unscrupulous schemer as usual.

One of the central themes is the constant reference to how the players manipulate and try to ensure a favourable impression on the American public. Or the opposite. Kind of a chess game versus right and wrong, being true to oneself or not, etc.

In some ways it's too rose-tinted, but the performances are that strong that it holds your attention the whole time and the revelationary moments and pivots are quite masterful.
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“The Contender” is a political drama about a confirmation hearing in the US Congress. It premiered in the year 2000 and was released on DVD in 2008. Here is some basic information about it:

** Written and directed by Rod Lurie
** Produced by Willi Baer, Marc Frydman, Gary Oldman, James Spies, and Douglas Urbanski
** Run time: 126 minutes

The cast includes the following:

** Gary Oldman as Sheldon “Shelly” Runyon – an experienced politician (Rep)
** Joan Allen as Laine Hanson – US senator (before Rep, now Dem)
** Jeff Bridges as Jackson Evans – president (Dem)
** Christian Slater as Reginald Webster – a young politician (Dem)

** Sam Elliott as Kermit Newman – White House chief of staff
** William Peterson as Jack Hathaway – governor of Virginia (Dem)
** Robin Thomas as William Hanson – Laine’s husband
** Mariel Hemingway as Cynthia Charlton Lee – William Hanson’s former wife

** Kathryn Morris as Paige Willomina – an FBI agent
** Kristen Shaw as Fiona Hathaway – Jack’s wife
** Irene Ziegler as Maggie Runyon – Shelly’s wife
** Larry King as himself – a CCN reporter

As stated above, this movie is a political drama, i.e. a fictional story that is placed in a political context. In this case the context is the US political system.

I do not wish to spoil the viewing for anyone. Therefore I am not going to reveal too much about happens in this movie, but I have to mention a few details in order to explain my rating.

In this story, Jackson Evans has served as president for ca. seven years. He is close to the end of his second term. He cannot be re-elected. But his vice-president has just died. And he has to nominate someone for the vacant post. Finding the right person will probably be the last important thing he will do while he is in office. It will be his “swan song.”

Jackson wants to nominate a woman for the job. If confirmed, this will be the first time in US history that a woman has held this post. Jackson nominates Laine Hanson, who is at the moment a US Senator. When she entered politics, she was a Republican, but now she is a Democrat.

Confirmation hearings will be conducted by a congressional committee whose chairman is Sheldon “Shelly” Runyon, a Republican. Shelly does not want Laine; he wants Jack Hathaway, who is the Governor of Virginia.

So Shelly tries to find something he and his committee can use against Laine. They find something in her past. They claim she did something bad while she was a young student at university and they use this against her. How does Laine respond to this? She refuses to respond. She says this is personal, this is private and they have no right to ask her.

This is how the story begins and this is where my presentation ends. If you want to know what happens with the confirmation hearings, you will have to watch the movie all the way to the end. There are some twists and turns along the way; some of them may surprise you.

What do reviewers say about it? On IMDb it has a rating of 70 per cent, which corresponds to 3.5 stars on Amazon. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a rating of 76 per cent, which corresponds to 3.8 stars on Amazon. If you ask me, these average ratings are too high.

The famous movie critic Roger Ebert (1942-2013) offers 4 of 4 stars or 100 per cent. I often agree with Roger, but in this case I have to disagree with him. Why?

If you think about this movie - what is said and what is done here - you will find that it is not quite as good as you may think while watching it. Reflection will make you change your mind. Reflection will tell you that this movie has several serious flaws. Let me explain:

# 1. The general story-line is too black-and-white: the Republicans are the bad guys, while the Democrats are the good guys. This pattern is too simplistic. The end of the movie is too sweet; totally implausible.

# 2. Laine states her political credo in three short points: (a) abortion? Yes; (b) gun control? Yes; (c) separation of church and state? Yes, because she is an atheist. But such a person could never have been a Republican. Moreover, such a person is not likely to be nominated for high public office in the US, because he or she will not be confirmed.

# 3. If you consider what happened in the US in and around the year 2000, you will realize that this movie is totally unrealistic. Remember the presidential election in the year 2000. Remember Anita Hill and the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas in 1991. This movie is a left-liberal dream that has no connection with the real world of US politics.

I have to remove one star for each of the flaws I have mentioned here. Therefore I think it deserves a rating of two stars.

PS. If you want to watch a political drama, you can try The Special Relationship (from 2010) about Tony Blair in the UK and Bill Clinton in the US (1997-2001). Or Confirmation (from 2016) about Anita Hill and the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas (1991) These movies are more realistic and therefore much better than “The Contender.”
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Somehow I missed this film, but found it on Amazon's Prime list. This is a film that has outstanding performances by its actors. It certainly takes sides politically, which is quite obvious, and if you can't look at the film in an objective manger, than this may be a difficult film for you.

The film is liberal and Democratic, and the protagonist conservative and Republican. It appears that this film shows a feminine side of 'a sex scandal'. A Vice President has died in office, and after three weeks, the country is clam outing for a replacement. The President, played by Jeff Bridges has several choices. One is a governor who has become a hero by trying to save a drowning woman from a car accident. The problem is, the President tells Gov. Hathaway, played by William Petersen, is that the woman died. Sorry, next. sen. Laine Hanson, played by Joan Allen, is the perfect candidate until a sex scandal tries to derail her. GOP Rep. Shelly Runyon, played by Gary Oldman, in a remarkable performance does not like women in power and will use whatever device he can to bring her down. Old an plays this powerful character, either eating, drinking or smoking. And, his curly hair trying to hide a bald spot is the best I have seen. His is the performance to watch.

The mechanisms that run DC are very powerful in this film. All the deals and lies and deceit pike up except for Sen. Hanson, who will not play games nor lie. Is this the real DC, I very much doubt it, but I enjoyed this film. This is a film to observe actors, the political scheme may detract you, but go for the action and the performances.

Recommended. prisrob 10-13-14
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on 16 November 2004
After just catching this film again on TV, I felt (again) like I'd just watched a film that was oh so close to registering as a bona fide classic but was let down by some over the top chest beating in the final reels.
The story has been laid out on this page, so I won't go over it again. For three quarters of the film you are watching a tightly plotted film with truly stand out dialogue and acting of the highest class. Bridges is perfect as the Clinton-esque president, Oldman has a whale of the time as the puritanical and self motivated (and fantastically named) Sheldon Runyon while Allen again shows herself to be one of the top actresses working today as the stoic and morally bound Laine Hanson.
With all of these actors on top form, and other performances from Sam Elliott, Christian Slater, William Petersen amongst others lighting up linking scenes, the film moves smoothly along. It is a great shame then that all the good build up work is let down by (without giving too much away) a ridiculously unlikely twist spun by a central character, and a flag waving finale which contrasts completely with the calm and excellently made arguments brought before it, not to mention the sensational confrontations that litter the film.
Certainly worth watching, this is a film that we can assume was influenced by Hollywood's need for a barnstorming finish, which is ironic considering the subject matter.
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Certainly the series 'The West Wing' has given us an appetite for political thrillers and this fills the bill.
It seemed to be slightly shallow early on but thankfully I stuck with it and the characters developed very well over the two hours and it became hugely enjoyable,not least because of Gary Oldman's brilliant performance as a senator you love to hate.

Plenty of intrigue, some humour, some skulduggery and Jeff Bridges competing with Oldman for the acting honours which made this a riveting political thriller.Satisfying buy,this dvd.
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on 29 October 2001
The premise of "The Contender" is that the president (Jeff Bridges) is seven years in office and is desperate to be remembered for something worthwhile. His Vice President has the good grace to die on him which gives Bridges the opportunity to appoint a replacement. The favourite for the job is however ruled out and the attention then focuses on Sen. Lane Hanson (Joan Allen) the Prez seizes the moment and puts her forward for the job. However there is a fly in the ointment in the shape of a vicious and sneering congressman(played to perfection by Gary Oldman) he is totally determined to stop Hanson at all costs. The scenes involving Oldman and Allen are the best part of this movie and the supporting cast in the shape of William Peterson and Christian Slater impress.
There are two problems with this film one is the performance of Jeff Bridges who as the President seems more interested in ordering more and more outlandish types of snacks from the kitchen than running the country, and the cack handed "twist" ending.
Those aside it is Gary Oldman who shines as the vicious congressman in one the best make up jobs Hollywood has done in the last five years.
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on 30 August 2013
This film is nothing short of what you might expect from an American "political" drama, where the good guys unrealistically triumph over baddies without having to get their hands too dirty in the process. Whilst on paper the premise of The Contender is interesting, its execution is regrettably flawed. As a result the film merely offers the audience an overly obnoxious President who decides to nominate a woman to be his vice president in order to cement his own legacy, much to the chagrin of Gary Oldman's character. Throw in some clumsy dialogue and the ubiquitous Damascene Conversion and you have yourself a typical American film.

However what separates this from just being any ordinary B-Film, is its approach towards women. Whilst I personally find the notion of shattering the glass ceiling laudable, the decision to select the woman candidate is merely on the whims of a frankly irresponsible President, who spends more time bowling and trying to catch out his kitchen staff than actually running the country. As a consequence he merely chooses her as a means of promoting himself, rather than selecting a candidate on merit, which you would expect in such a situation. Not to mention the fact that all of the characters remain painfully Two-Dimensional, there is no middle ground in terms of characterisation: If you're a Republican you're bad, whereas if you're a Democrat you're good - It's essentially the old spaghetti western approach of black and white hats. It's this sort of characterisation that you expect from a child's film, where whenever the baddy comes on the screen there is a dramatic shift in the music. Moreover the films only saving grace is Gary Oldman, the baddy that we are meant to hate, which typifies his chameleon approach to characterisation.

Furthermore this film seems to act more as spring board for the ideological beliefs of the filmmakers operating out of a vacuum, rather than realistically representing the political climate of US politics as it simply casts the Democrats as the heroes that will always win, which merely does them a disservice.
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on 26 January 2008
Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen) is selected as the nominee for Vice President after the incumbent's death.
But she is opposed by Congressman Runyon (Gary Oldman) who uses rumours of sexual hijinks in her past to smear her.
This film takes the moral high ground that a man would just laugh this off as one of the boys & portrays the resultant political skullduggery on both sides.
Ok so the end is a bit tub thumping & Jeff Bridges as the president doesn't do much apart from order food & the final scene.
But as the US President is kind of a god/king selected from amongest the people, then if you gave him anything more he'd end up dominating the entire film.
Which would mean that you wouldn't be able to appreciate the sterling work done by Joan Allen, Gary Oldman, William Petersen & Sam Elliott.
This isn't up to the standard of the West Wing but as a film it doesn't have the time to explore all the aspects to the same degree.
Give The Contender a chance & you'll enjoy it but don't expect The Prince.
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