Movie Review: Our Brand Is Crisis (2015)

Posted: August 1, 2016 in Drama
Tags: ,

Our Brand Is Crisis

Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) hasn’t worked on a Presidential campaign in years.  In 2002, she decides to come out of her self-imposed retirement to work for a Bolivian presidential candidate named Castillo. (Joaquin De Almeida) Castillo as president before and voted out.  He is 28% behind when Jane arrives, and as the campaign begins, he is pelted with an egg and a llama used for a Castillo political ad in run over by a truck.  Castillo’s opponent Victor Rivera (Louis Arcella) is a popular populist, with strong ties to the indigenous people of Bolivia.  Jane learns that Rivera’s campaign is run by an old political rival, Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton) and that makes her want to win all the more.  What is Jane’s strategy?  Go negative. Will it work?

I like politics, I like movies, but I cannot remember the last political movie I liked, maybe the LBJ movie on HBO, All The Way.  Our Brand Is Crisis is supposed to be based on a documentary, but the feeling I got from this fictional movie was cynicism from the first frame to nearly the last.   An American political mercenary goes to work for a candidate she can’t even stomach, and what does she recommend?  Ah yes, let’s export the worst of American democracy to the rest of the world.  Let’s put lipstick on pigs around the world, and that will make the world much better.  Oh, the movie cops out with an ending that’s supposed to justify everything that came before, but this movie is hardly Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.  I didn’t care about the story or the characters. The question that should have been asked, and wasn’t.  Why is a private U.S. firm trying to meddle in Bolivian elections?  When we interfere in elections, it usually ends badly for us, and the foreign country involved. Skip this movie.

Sandra Bullock came to everyone’s attention in Speed and quickly became “America’s Sweetheart” in the movie “Speed.”  She plays no one’s sweetheart in this movie.  She plays a hardened political operative whose only objective is winning at all costs.  There is nothing redemptive about this character, and Bullock does not bring any worthy qualities to this character.  Her big speeches only reinforce the negativity that permeates this film. Billy Bob Thornton plays an even less likeable character, and he plays him with a glib, know-it all look on his face.  To top it off, Bullock and Thornton do not have any chemistry together, and this makes this film even harder to bear. Anthony Mackie is wasted again, as a functionary trying to help Castillo win.  He’s just there, expressing no emotion, one way or another.  It’s a nothing performance.

The direction is not worthy of mention, there is nothing visual about this movie, unless you like seeing a llama run over by a truck.  The pacing is slow, and he gets nothing out of his actors, and that’s a pretty good cast to get bad performances from.  He directed Pineapple Express, which I have not seen. George Clooney produced this poor excuse for a political drama, God knows why.

Our Brand Is Crisis: Bullock bulls her way through an unsavory role.

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