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Bullock Saves ‘Brand’ from Being a Crisis

Our_Brand_Is_Crisis_(2015_film)_POSTERWell this movie may not be a crisis, but it isn’t that good, either…

“Our Brand Is Crisis” stars Sandra Bullock as a political strategist who comes out of retirement to help a Bolivia presidential candidate. Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie and Joaqium de Almeida also star as David Gordon Green directs. The film is partially based on the true story of the 2002 Bolivia election.

The film is produced by George Clooney, and was at one time supposed to feature him in the starring role as well as the director’s chair. But somewhere along the line the role went to Bullock and the character was rewritten as a woman, and we have the movie we have. The movie may have been different with Clooney in the starring role, however I can’t imagine it would have been much better. As I’m sure Clooney would have done, Bullock is the saving grace of the film, lifting it up and at some points saving it from a script that is scattershot and features major shifts in tone.

The interesting thing about Bullock in “Our Brand Is Crisis” (a role that screams Golden Globe nomination) is that she seems blissfully unaware of how poor the movie around her is. She skates along, spewing out quotes from politicians and military leaders, and occasionally gives passionate speeches. It is an interesting character and by far the best part of the movie. Every time things seem to be slowing down Bullock gives it a shot of energy, however her flare may expose the flaws the film has.

The tone of the film is all over the place. There are a few chuckles that come out of nowhere (thanks to the always likable Anthony Mackie) but the film isn’t constantly funny enough to be a comedy. On the flip side the film’s dramatic heft stems from randomly inserted story points, like Bullock’s character disclosing randomly halfway through the film that she suffers from depression; and then never touching on that topic again. There’s a point where Mackie’s character says negative ad campaigns are like a bomb, you can blow your opponent up but you don’t know where the votes are going to land. The tone of this film is a lot like that; they just set off an explosive in the genre factory and prayed things ended up in the right place (they didn’t).

Oh, and can we talk about Billy Bob Thornton’s character because what the heck was that? He plays the political adversary to Bullock and when he’s not making sexual innuendos at Bullock (a storyline that never reaches fruition), he’s coming off very uncomfortable for the viewer. And one may say that’s the point, he’s a sleaze ball; well the presidential candidate is a scumbag human, too, but at no point did I feel a sense of awkwardness just seeing his character on screen.

Some of the behind-the-scenes of political campaigns is fun, and like I said Bullock steals the show (and made me want to start researching quotations that I can spew out at random) but all too often I found myself disinterested in “Our Brand Is Crisis.”

Here’s the bottom line: I saw this film yesterday, and it already feels like it was a month ago, that’s how far this thing has already faded into my mind. If you’re a Bullock fan is this worth checking out if it’s on TV one Friday night? Sure. But to most everyone else, you’ll find the film about as fun as watching a real presidential debate; maybe less because there’s no Donald Trump.

Critics Rating: 5/10

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