Classic Review: Our Brand is Crisis (2015)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Our Brand is Crisis” which originally appeared here.

Falling badly in the polls. Bolivian presidential candidate Pedro Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) enlists the help of an American management team for help. The main start of the team is “Calamity” Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock), a brilliant strategist who must come out of a self-imposed retirement for a chance to beat her professional nemesis, the loathsome Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton). Since Candy is working for her competition, this election becomes a dirty, all-out battle between the two political consultants, where nothing is held sacred and winning is the only option.

Ever since I saw her in Gravity, I’ve been a big Sandra Bullock fan. I think she’s a great actress and I was willing to take a chance on this film because of that. I was interested in this because the film’s trailers made it look like a fun political satire. The film started off with Jane being plucked from obscurity and starts off slow from there as she just seems disinterested in the proceedings. I found this a little annoying because I felt, as the other characters did, that my time was being wasted. They made her have altitude sickness but that wasn’t necessary. Once she got over that, I felt the film started to get better. It was interesting for me to see their interpretation of the political process and the fact that it was taking place in Bolivia didn’t seem to have any relevance. The campaigning and the strategizing was fun but I feel like the film was playing it safe with everything. It never really explored anything with any depth and again, it never really talked about what was happening in Bolivia. Because of this, the film’s sudden change of tone near the end did not work. I just found it odd as the film started off as one thing and then tried to be something else and the transition just didn’t work either. I found the plot in this one to also to not be original and rather predictable. The film also had a message but just like the tone change, it also did not work or feel earned. Despite the plot’s shortcomings, they did not matter as much to me because of the acting. specifically by Bullock and Thornton. I found Bullock here to be very entertaining and she had a great command of the screen. Thornton was great as well as his scenes with Bullock’s Jane were just amazing because of the writing and the chemistry between the two actors who are actually friends in real life. The other actors in the film (Anthony Mackie as Ben, de Almeida as Castillo, Ann Dowd as Nell, Scoot McNairy as Buckley, Zoe Kazan as LeBlanc, and Reynaldo Pacheco as Eddie) were good too and the chemistry was there but there was no character development whatsoever as we never really got to learn anything about any of these characters. The closest character to get some development was Pacheco’s Eddie as his character served primarily as a view into Bolivia itself but barely. This film set out to be a satire and a drama and I think it got the satire but some of the drama just didn’t work for me. Overall, this film had good intentions but was a little messy but Bullock and Thornton alone make this worth a look.

Score: 7/10

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