Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton have been in a number of exceptional films. From The Blind Side to Monster’s Ball, if one of their names is attached to a film, people generally take notice. Our Brand is Crisis is not a film title that catches your attention. To most people it has no meaning, but the fact that Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton are both featured (alongside Anthony Mackie of Marvel fame) means that it’s probably at least worth checking out.
In Our Brand is Crisis, Bullock plays ‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine, a retired political consultant. She had a tough time in the US political world, but she was one of the best in her prime. Now she lives a peaceful life in the middle of nowhere. When Ben (Anthony Mackie) and Nell (Ann Dowd) come knocking at her door, she’s reluctant to go back into the world of politics, especially given the fact she’d be heading to Bolivia. However, when she discovers her former adversary, Pat Candy (Thornton), is working for the opposition, she’s on the next flight out of the country.
Our Brand is Crisis is just under two hours, and for the first 90 minutes it’s a fairly typical film about politics and some of the underhanded practices that are used to gain votes. It offers shades of House of Cards, but with a bit more humor and far less drama. Despite solid performances by Bullock, Thornton and Mackie, as well as Joaquim de Almeida who plays Pedro Gallo, (the Bolivian Presidential candidate who Jane works for), this simply isn’t anything special. The first 90 minutes aren’t bad, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
There are a few moments throughout the film when Jane is interacting with some of the Bolivian locals, or when her rivalry with Pat Candy flares up, that make this film stand out. However, there’s a twist that occurs toward the end of the film that escalates what you see on screen from an average political film, to something that comes close to greatness. I won’t spoil it here other than to say that you can see the twist coming, but it’s the twist that gives the film some heart and makes you want to know what happens next.
If you’re a fan of political films with a side-serving of humor, you’ll probably enjoy Our Brand is Crisis. The film is a fictional telling of the 2005 documentary by the same name. You won’t find any new ground covered here, but all of the key players turn in the performances you would expect based on their previous work. There are a few stand out moments, but for the most part this is par for the course based on what you’d expect from a political film starring Bullock and Thornton. The two have good chemistry working together and that translates well in the film. If you see the film in theaters you won’t be disappointed, but don’t expect to see anything revolutionary. You probably won’t be upset if you wait to watch it on Netflix or Redbox either.
Our Brand is Crisis:[usr 3.5]
About Our Brand is Crisis
Synopsis: An American woman, well-versed in political campaigns, is sent to the war-torn lands of South America to help install a new leader but is threatened to be thwarted by a long-term rival.
Directors: David Gordon Green
Writers: Peter Straughan (screenplay), Rachel Boynton (documentary)
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie
Runtime: 107 Minutes
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.