While trying to search for older critically acclaimed movies, I was pointed to The Contender which is a political thriller of sorts. Even though American politics are at an all-time high of being insanely absurd, it was a little strange to go back just to a time where national issues were much milder due to a stable economy and mostly peaceful relations with the Middle East.
The movie is set during the fictional presidency of Jackson Evans. In a rare event of American history, the Vice President dies and President Evans must choose a new partner to lead the nation with. The public’s choice is Governor Jack Hathaway, who almost saved the life of a woman who drove her car off a bridge. However the Evans administration fears another scandal for Democrats such as Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick incident, and opts for another candidate for the Vice Presidency.
The president eventually picks Senator Laine Hanson, who would become the first woman to take on the role. However she must be confirmed by a House Judiciary Committee before it can happen, and Republican Congressman Sheldon Runyon (who heads the committee) does everything in his power to shame Hanson and deny her the 2nd highest office in the country.
Since I’m a very political person (and a Democrat) I found it very easy to appreciate the movie. It does a wonderful job at exposing the dirty side of politics, culture, and treatment of women in higher office. Gary Oldman, Jeff Bridges, and Joan Allen play three marvelous parts, though I wish Bridges had more time on-screen as President Evans. That final speech he delivered near the end was empowering, and he also had great charm even during the tough-tension of the plot-twist. If you’re not bored by politics, I recommend you give it a watch but I admit that non-political viewers and ultra-conservatives won’t be very fond of the film.