Our Brand is Crisis review

David Gordon Green
Sandra Bullock
Billy Bob Thornton
Anthony Mackie
Joaquim de Almeida
Ann Dowd
Rated: R

“Our Brand is Crisis” is based off a documentary of the same name and tells the story of an election in Bolivia in the early 2000s. Sandra Bullock plays Jane in the film, an experienced political strategist who has been tasked with helping a specific candidate win.

The film explores the different tactics that were used in the election and shows the game that is played for voters.

The story of this election comes off as very interesting and the documentary “Our Brand is Crisis,” released in 2005, is from what I’ve seen a gripping political tale. Unfortunately, the 2015 version doesn’t hit the levels needed for an effective political film.

Tone is the biggest weakness in “Crisis.” The movie wants to be a movie making a point on the issues in politics: corruption, the veil over the eyes of voters and so on. The problem is the film also includes a bunch of comedy which detracts from many of the situations.

There isn’t a problem with inserting humor into a film with a serious subject, it can be done. The problem here is that rather than having humor from witty dialogue, the film instead opts for some comedy that is more on the slap stick side.

One scene features two campaign buses trying to comically pass each other and Bullock’s character trying to moon the other campaign staff. Another sequence shows Bullock’s character trying to make a speech and stand up on a chair but the chair breaks. It doesn’t fit in this movie trying to make an impact.

“Crisis” also features a lack-luster rivalry that plays out through the film between Bullock’s character and fellow political strategist Pat Candy (Thornton), who works for the opposite campaign. Once again, this could have made for an interesting aspect to include. The problem is the character Pat is basically portrayed in almost cartoonish fashion, making it difficult to get engaged.

The only strength the film has going for it is its cast, which is experienced and delivers some solid performances. Bullock, for example, commands the screen when she appears and was a good pick for the role. The same can be said for Joaquim de Almeida who is convincing as the presidential candidate Castillo. Anthony Mackie was also solid in the film, playing the younger strategist who is still learning the ropes.

With the real life story that this film was based off, “Our Brand is Crisis” could have been a memorable political flick, unfortunately, its story elements such as the humor and that rivalry mentioned drag this one far down, despite the good performances. 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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