Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
- Preamp, Processor or Receiver
- Yamaha TRS-7850 Atmos Receiver
- Other Amp
- Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
- Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
- Sony ubx800 4K UHD Player
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- 2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
- Video Display Device
- JVC RS-46 Projector
- Draper Cineperm M1300 119 inch Static Screen
The Front Runner
When The Front Runner was originally announced some months back I was honestly puzzled on WHY this biopic was being made. I mean, it was about a moderately obscure senator from Colorado running for President during the same time as George Bush Sr., and was ousted by Michael Dukakis (who was subsequently thrashed by Bush in the general election) and faded back into obscurity. It just seemed like one of the strangest biopics that could be made in the political arena, as Senator Gary Hart was (and is) a non issue for 99.9% of people outside of a history book. It wasn’t until I saw the film that I really understood WHY this film was being made, and the underlying themes that resonate so heavily today. The movie itself is a solid biopic, and while it is a bit slow at times, that underlying theme (that I’ll delve into in a moment) is really what makes the movie relevant today.
Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) was the Front Runner back in 1988. He was going up against Bush Sr. on the DNC platform, and by all accounts was THE guy to beat. He was handsome, he had a nice family, he was likable, and he had a fairly centrist political position that appealed to his voting base. Gary was the front runner for his party and it seemed like he was going to be the man to go up against the Republican’s choice of Bush. He had tried for the presidential seat in 1984 against Reagan and lost, but now he was running after the Republicans had held the Presidency for 8 years (after 2 terms of a single party in office, the nation usually swings back and chooses the opposing party’s candidate due to party fatigue) and Hart’s win was promising by all polls. However, this was around the time in the 1980s when media was changing (and not for the better). Journalists were now more interested in hot gossip and personal skeletons in the closet, so when some circumstantial evidence comes to light that Gary might be having an affair, the news stations jumped on it like rabid dogs and systematically end the career of the hopeful presidential candidate.
The Front Runner doesn’t lionize Gary Hart at all. He’s doing what he does, and his actions are both good and bad. Instead it takes a sobering look at how a politicians actions directly affects his candidacy, even if it’s a completely personal matter. Your life is not your own anymore, and the media will do everything they can to MAKE something come to the forefront, even if the actions you do, or the things you say are from a different version of yourself in the past. Hugh Jackman is fantastic as Gary Hart, a man who is both victim and villain in this play. The rest of the star studded cast (J.K. Simmons, Vera Farmiga, Molly Ephraim, Mark O’Brien, Alfred Molina, Bill Burr) do a great job, but this is really about Gary, and Hugh Jackman completely stands on their shoulders as front and center man.
Some of the best parts of The Front Runner are the audience acting as a guest in a scene. Meaning those scenes where we’re sitting in a press meeting listening to the back and forth conversations of people making decisions (some of which only solidify my loathing for sleazy journalism), as well as Gary Hart’s campaign staff discussing on what needs to be done. However, this type of “fly on the wall” storytelling is also a bit sluggish and slow for a near 2 hour film. The center act drags as everyone figures out what to do, and it doesn’t pick up again until the final 30 minutes when Gary Hart has to confront the situation head on and gives his sobering speech at the end.
Rated R for language including some sexual references
• The Unmaking of a Candidate - Featurette
• Three deleted scenes
The Front Runner is a middle of the road biopic about an obscure senator from Colorado, but what it stand out is the relevant themes regarding today’s run for political office and the media hell storm that follows it. In fact, it’s eerily accurate to what we deal with today and a bitter pill to swallow if you think about it critically. The mediocre storytelling and sluggish nature of the film keeps it from being truly great though, and as such is a solid film to watch, but not one that will wow and shock the academy awards. Sony does a fantastic job with the Blu-ray with the only weak technical specs being the mild extras. The Front Runner may not sweep the awards ceremonies, but it is solid political biopic with a somber message that is well worth watching.
Starring: Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons, Mark O'Brien, Molly Ephraim, Chris Coy, Alex Karpovsky, Tommy Dewey, Josh Brener
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Written by: Matt Bai, Jay Carson, Jason Reitman
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Turkish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish
Runtime: 114 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 12th, 2019
Recommendation: Interesting Watch