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The Contender

Where to Watch The Contender


The Contender is an intense political drama released in the year 2000 featuring excellent performances from Joan Allen, Gary Oldman, and Jeff Bridges among others. The movie masterfully dives deep into the American political sphere with an engrossing story that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats as it relentlessly exposes the grueling world of political wrangling and power play.

The plot of the film centers around an unexpected vacancy in the Vice-President role after the incumbent’s sudden death. President Jackson Evans, portrayed with charm and wit by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, capitalizes on the opportunity and decides to make history by nominating a woman to the position for the first time. Objecting to the traditional norms, he chooses Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen), an idealistic politician from Ohio, as his nominee.

The film does an excellent job in portraying Joan Allen as a steadfast and principled character who refuses to succumb to any form of pressure. Allen’s powerful portrayal gains focus in crafting a complex, resilient character who builds up an impressive fortitude against her ruthless opponents who leave no stone unturned to tarnish her reputation. Her performance is a testament to women's strength and tenacity in a male-dominated political sphere.

Gary Oldman, unrecognizable in his role as Rep. Shelly Runyon, the ambitious and crafty head of the confirmation committee, delivers an intense performance, impeccably embracing the character’s antagonistic bent. He leads the opposing faction that would stop at nothing to prevent the appointment of a female Vice-President, thus setting off an almost vicious battle, that revolves more around character assassination than wholesome political debate.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bridges, portraying the president passionately, brings a refreshing blend of humor and authority to his role. He stands up for his choice confidently, unperturbed by the challenges, conspiracies, and staggering pressure from his fellow politicians aimed at manipulating his decision.

One of the standout elements of The Contender is its dialogue, which often takes on the quality of high-stakes verbal dueling on political ideology, personal independence, and the media’s role in politics. Although it revolves around the machinations of politics, the film does not distance viewers who might not be familiar with the intricacies of American politics. Instead, it draws them in with universally relatable themes such as gender equality, media influence, and personal dignity.

The Contender makes a point to explore the double standards exercised in politics and the ordeal a woman has to go through to secure her spot. This aspect is passionately described in a series of compelling sequences that smartly weave Hanson’s fight against a barrage of personal attacks into an engaging narrative.

Furthermore, Director Rod Lurie does not miss the opportunity to comment on the media’s influence in shaping public opinion, highlighting the good and bad sides of its immense power. He uses the fast-paced nature of political sensitivity to enhance the profundity of the narrative and underpin the rapid escalation of the political drama.

Beyond its excellent script and riveting performances, The Contender is beautifully shot, with cinematography that enhances the high-stress environment of Washington D.C. politics. The film’s soundtrack also adds to the emotional charge, providing a fitting backdrop to the tense action on screen.

In summary, The Contender is much more than a political drama. It is a film that navigates through the intricate maze of American politics, shedding light on the dark corners of power struggle while championing the cause for gender equality. It offers a compelling exploration of the sacrifices that come with public service and the thin line that differentiates personal and public lives for politicians, while raising thought-provoking questions concerning the morality of personal attacks in politics. The formidable performances by the lead actors, along with an engaging script and rich visuals, all contribute to making this movie a robust and riveting tale of political power play.

The Contender is a Drama, Thriller movie released in 2000. It has a runtime of 126 minutes. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.9. It also holds a MetaScore of 59.

How to Watch The Contender

Where can I stream The Contender movie online? The Contender is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Plex, Pluto TV, Kanopy, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Contender for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Rod Lurie
Gary Oldman, Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Christian Slater, William Petersen, Philip Baker Hall, Saul Rubinek, Sam Elliott
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