First Hit: With our own elections on the horizon, Sandra Bullock carries this film with an air believability and truth although, at times, it is a lackluster film.
This story is about political strategists and how they ply their wares. I’ve no idea whether how much truth there is in the underhanded way they operate but given what gets displayed in our US elections, it isn’t too far of a stretch to imagine people behind the candidates doing battle in this way.
Here Jane (Calamity Jane) as played by Bullock has been through the ringer. She has had some wins but had one huge loss because of the meanness of one of her opponents’ strategist, Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton). Candy is running a Bolivian presidential campaign for Rivera (Louis Arcella) and Ben (Anthony Mackie) and Nell (Ann Dowd) bring Jane out of retirement to beat Candy at his own game.
They want her to be the strategist for his opponent Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) who has numerous flaws – including integrity. There are lots of scenes where the brooding Jane is thinking about the next thing to do, but when she coalesces the idea, she barks it out and everyone pays attention. It is in those scenes that had Bullock make the film interesting.
The film’s other fireworks (about 5 of them) are when Candy drops in, unscheduled, to speak with Jane. Bullock’s slow seething on Candy’s words are great. The other part of the film I was drawn to were the scenes of Sucre (capital of Bolivia). Not sure if they actually shot there, but the feel of the street scenes were very strong.
Bullock is the strongest part of the film. She makes her scenes interesting and compelling. Thornton is very good as the protagonist strategist. His snarky nature mixed with intelligence makes his character perfect for the role. Mackie is OK as is Dowd. Almeida is strong as marginally caring for the people and mostly caring that he wins the Presidency. Zoe Kazan as LeBlanc the ultimate information finder was wonderful. Peter Straughan wrote a good screen play. David Gordon Green had some directing highlights, (the debate, protest rallies, and scenes with Jane in the campaign headquarters room), but overall it didn’t feel held together as a strong story of which this could have been.
Overall: This was less than the sum of its parts, but worthy of watching.