Sidney Lumet’s totally cracking 1986 political drama Power. I feel like my cinema-viewing life has been leading up to this moment. How had I not seen this terrific movie sooner? I’ll resist my temptation to get super obnoxious with this mini-review, but holy shit this movie rocks it – hard. You’ve got sleazy mustache Dick Gere playing a crafty, cynical, and overworked political consultant/campaign strategist who knows how to handle the media and is working for an Ohio business tycoon with Senate aspirations, Gene Hackman as his old friend and one-time mentor with traditional values who gets back-stabbed, Kate Capshaw doing near-nudity in her role as Gere’s hottie girlfriend, Julie Christie as Gere’s dreamy ex-wife who might be more lethal than him, Denzel Washington in a fiery supporting turn as Gere’s arch rival, JT Walsh in a small but crucial role, Fritz Weaver, E.G. Marshall, and Beatrice Straight. The barbed screenplay by David Himmelstein took aim at the media with tremendous gusto, paving the way for something like the even more hard-nosed Nightcrawler or the similar-feeling but decidedly more playful Our Brand is Crisis.
Lumet’s on-point direction was well served by frequent collaborator Andrzej Bartkowiak’s crisp and clean cinematography, while the film is bookended by a pulsating opening credits sequence and a beyond engrossing final montage that puts one final nail in the coffin; Andrew Mondhshein’s tight editing kept the pace fast and energetic. And c’mon, Gere’s character’s name is PETE ST. JOHN, and he’s rocking one of the ULTIMATE nose-ticklers without a shred of irony. There’s one absolutely fantastic scene between Gere and Hackman where the two men discuss their past and their potentially rocky future, some nice interplay between Christie and Gere, and a general sense of knowledge and understanding of the themes and ideas at play. In many respects feeling remarkably prescient 20 years after its original release, where it was met with indifference from both critics and audiences, my guess is that Power is even better now than it was when it first unspooled for disinterested viewers.