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OUR BRAND IS CRISIS
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan
Director: David Gordon Green
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 107 Minutes
Release Date: February 2, 2016

But like the man said, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”

Film **

With politics dominating the world, especially with the Presidential election not too far away, there wouldn’t be a more appropriate time for another timely political satire in the vein of Wag the Dog, Bulworth and In the Loop. Unfortunately, Our Brand is Crisis isn’t as refreshing, engaging or merely entertaining as those aforementioned films. It provides a much needed chuckle every now and then, but then the films just mentioned delivered laughs at a speed three times faster.

The film comes suggested from a 2005 documentary of the same name. It detailed the efforts of an American consulting firm that was tasked with salvaging a sinking campaign of a former president of Bolivia attempting to reclaim the title. As a feature film, directed by the vastly talented David Gordon Green, it doesn’t offer any new or refreshing insight to the political process that plenty of other films and documentaries have already done.

The central focus of the story is Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock), a political strategist once regarded as one of the best to ever grace the field. Her ruthless maneuvers in the profession even earned her the nickname “Calamity Jane”. But that’s in the past.

Currently, Jane is washed up, living alone in a remote cabin and close to all out insanity. She is visited by Nell (Ann Dowd), a former associate who presents Jane with an offer that, well, no one else will touch. She is asked to bring her insight into the failing campaign of former President of Bolivia, Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida), who currently polls at single digits and is positioned far behind multiple candidates.

Along the way, Jane crosses paths with her arch nemesis in the form of Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton). He’s a political operator just like she is, only working for a rival candidate who happens to be the frontrunner. He’s also defeated her multiple times in the past.

In addition to being un-refreshing with its content, Our Brand is Crisis is probably the first politically charged movie without anything significant to say, with the “serious/meaningful” moments barely registering. It’s also way all over the place in terms of tone, never finding a perfect balance.

Ms. Bullock is in fine form as always, though she appears a little too glamorous for a character who’s a manic depressive alcoholic and experiencing bad cases of altitude sickness in Bolivia. Thornton, as expected, delivers his usual one line zingers that provide the best moments. Too bad he’s not in the movie as much as he should be.

With all of the talent in front of and behind the camera, Our Brand is Crisis should have delivered a lot more bite.

Video ***1/2

This is a most fine Blu-ray effort from Warner. However, it really doesn’t shine until we get to Bolivia, where the various colors of the landscapes look really stunning. Image detail is of terrific quality, and makes the foreign land seem greatly authentic as a result.

Audio ***

Though mainly a dialogue oriented film, the 5.1 DTS HD mix does deliver a well-rounded presentation. Various moments such as car crash or a comedic bus chase do offer the lossless audio a lot to work with. Dialogue delivery is terrifically clear, and music is balanced out remarkably.

Features *

The only feature offered on this Blu-ray is a featurette titled “A Role Like No Other”, which focuses mainly on Sandra Bullock’s commitment to the character and her work process.

Summary:

Our Brand is Crisis attempts to align itself with the great political satires of the past, but comes up a little too short. It’s rare that I get very little out of a politically charged movie, but that’s exactly what happened here, sadly.

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