starring Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Kimberly Elise
screenplay by Daniel Pyne and Dean Georgaris, based on the novel by Richard Condon
directed by Jonathan Demme
by Walter Chaw Jonathan Demme's The Manchurian Candidate is arguably more of a retelling of William Cameron Menzies's Invaders from Mars (1953) than it is of John Frankenheimer's incomparable 1962 original. Like Menzies's science-fiction B-movie classic, the premise of Demme's updating is that some alien force (Earthling mad scientist in this instance instead of Martian) has implanted a small device in certain respected members of our society in order to manipulate them into harming our surprisingly fragile good old American value system. Also like Invaders from Mars, the whole film moves with the logic of a fever dream, all intense close-ups, hallucinatory visions, and suggestions of going underground.