The Assassination of Richard Nixon - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Assassination of Richard Nixon Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 30, 2013
The Assassination of Richard Nixon has everything you could hope for in a quality film. An engaging story full of interesting characters, great acting, score and all that jazz, a great piece of work. The film is set in the 1970s and revolves around it's central character, Sam Bick, a man who can't hold down a job, and has problems connecting with people socially. The film follows Sam on his unrelenting course of bad luck that will eventually prove to be too much for him to take. Compared by many to Taxi Driver, the film perhaps has more in common with Falling Down, Sam always complains about being held down by "the system" and how "the little man" is mistreated and such, the film does very well with this topic, leaving it open as to whether Sam is letting it get to him too much, or if he really is being mistreated, certainly different viewpoints and multiple viewings could generate many different views on the film. Sean Penn as usual is an acting tour de force, I've often criticised him privately for taking what I'd called "Gunning for Ocsars roles" a role that involves a mental breakdown or a disability or suchlike covered in a dramatic manner, that usually guarantees an Oscar nomination. An actor solely concerned with winning trophies, I do sometimes wish he'd take a few more risks rather than sticking to the "oscar" formula. He could be accused of that again here, but to be honest, whatever his intentions with making such a film, if he puts in a good performance there can be no complaints, and here he is exceptional, never going over the top, it's easily one of his best performances and certainly, the character of Sam Bicke is one that any actor would relish and provides good subject matter for a very good film. 4 Stars 9-29-13
Super Reviewer
June 30, 2012
Not an "entertaining" film to watch here, but Sean Penn's performance as a soul drowning in an avalanche of setbacks is as definite as the sound of a gunshot ... and as clearly recognizable. The rest of the cast compliments the drowning absolutely with apt portrayals of "please God, don't let it be me". Difficult to watch, as I said. Very true.
Super Reviewer
½ May 19, 2008

"I am but a grain of sand. The meek shall not inherit the earth. The earth belongs to the bullies who do not care how they get to the top."A film inspired by a true story about the life of an ordinary man who plotted to kill Nixon.Another one of those sad stories of a person channeling his lifes frustration and dissillusionment from the government and the country he loves, to a specific individual.Sean Penns acting is always something to see, the script was moderately smart, but I guess this just isnt my cup of tea. It just felt flat out, dreary and dry. I was waiting for a the big breakthrough in the pacing of the film but no big drama ever came out of it, it never happened, and Im left hangging. I never even cried throughout the movie!Seriously not recommended.If you want to see Sean Penn in a tear jerking drama you're better off watching I am Sam.Genre: Biography, Crime & DramaDirector: Niels MuellerRated R
Super Reviewer
½ December 18, 2008
"The mad story of a true man."

Sam Bicke (Sean Penn) is a salesman for an office-supply company whose life is slowly beginning to unravel. Bicke's job is going nowhere, his wife, Marie (Naomi Watts), has left him, and his boss (Jack Thompson) keeps pushing self-help books on him that make a mockery of his state of mind. One of Bicke's few friends is Bonny Simmons (Don Cheadle), an auto mechanic, and together they come up with an idea for a tire shop on wheels; while neither has the money to finance the project, Bicke has learned of a program for small-business loans instituted by President Richard Nixon, which he's certain will come through for him. But Bicke is denied his loan, which dovetails with his increasing suspicion of the president's Vietnam policies and a sudden interest in the "by any means necessary" political activism of the Black Panther Party. Desperate to seem important in some way, Bicke becomes increasingly obsessed with the duplicity of Richard Nixon, until he chooses to take it upon himself to stop the president once and for all.

A collaboration based upon true events, this film delivers such exquisite performance in every aspect providing lasting impact. One man's failure on a personal level is played out with such emotion and sadness in equal measure against a backdrop of propaganda and deceit, utilised by a country and it's leader. The duality of both personal and professional failure hit home hard and show exactly how lost and hopeless someone can feel when everything he believes in falls apart. Superb dialogue and character driven there is not one weak performance here. You genuinely appreciate both the narrative and visuals from footage of 'Nixon' brainwashing a nation, to the impact this has on a man being driven mad by his own perception of failure to be a success. The addition of 'Leonard Bernstein's' music, as a quality loved is inspired and poetic providing both pathos and sentiment in equal part. The absolute star element of this film is Sean Penn however. His tragic portrayal of a man loosing all faith and hope is truly inspired and up there with any acting achievement seen within the past few years. You cannot fail to be moved by his collapse and loss of dignity that provides an everlasting impression as he free falls into despair. This is a must see for all who want their experience of Cinema to mean something and stay with them.
Super Reviewer
September 23, 2007
Based on true events that also inspired Taxi Driver this is the story of a man who is slowly losing control over his life on pretty much every level and starts blaming society and the government, culminating in a crazy assassination attempt on the president of the USA. Sean Penn is convincing as always, just like the rest of the cast, and the downward spiral his naive and desperate character is going through is painful to watch in its inevitability. Of course that doesn't exactly make for a feel good movie, but for a pretty decent portrayal of a character whose American dream turned into a nightmare.
Super Reviewer
½ March 18, 2008
Typical great performances from Penn and Cheadle, this is not some kind of normal "pyscho killer goes insane and wants to kill the president" story. It's not a great movie, but not at all a bad one. It's a very good film.
Super Reviewer
½ March 25, 2008
To sum up "The Assassination of Richard Nixon" in two words: Sean Penn. It really is all about him! I think I'm right in saying he's in every single scene, so the success or failure of the film is directly proportional to the quality of his performance. Just as well he's magnificent, then. What distinguishes this movie from something like "Taxi Driver", and what makes it so chilling, is the care taken to portray Penn's Samuel Bicke as a regular guy down on his luck, and not just some disturbed loner. Bicke is highly-strung and has taken a few hard knocks, but if those are the only requisite qualifications for a would-be political assassin, it's a wonder we're all not at it! Consequently, though there's always the niggling suspicion that a piece of the motivational puzzle is missing, it's probably safer that we don't know about it. Excellent supporting cast. Excruciating but rewarding viewing.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2007
Inspired by a true story this slow moving films, shows a fine escalating performances by Sean Penn. The angel in which this film was shown was quite unique and a story well told.
Super Reviewer
August 2, 2007
No one hits rock bottom like Sean Penn, in a contained but powerful performance of a deeply disturbed man in a hopeless crusade to shake the foundations of the ever indifferent government. Intense, grief and shocking hidden gem in the same vein of the anti-hero and suicidal glory tale epitomized in classics like Scorsese's Taxi driver or Peckinpah's The wild bunch.
Super Reviewer
July 7, 2007
Great ending and Penn is great!
Super Reviewer
½ February 22, 2007
When an obsessive yet vulnerable man loses his family, job and later dreams while those he sees as cheats and liars always seem to succeed, he decides to kill the man he sees as the figurehead of the corruption of the american system; Richard Nixon. Penn is very good as a man who is desperately clinging to his sense of morals, becoming increasingly indignant as he sees his fellow "oppressed" crushed by the government on his television screen. There are actually a lot of parallels between those times and the current days of political spin, and Sam Bicke can almost be seen as a cypher for the disenfranchised muslims of the world who see acts of terror as their only voice. Clever and thought provoking, and offers a more personal picture of an individual trapped within a seemingly corrupt system than Syriana.
Super Reviewer
½ February 2, 2007
This was fantastic source material for a thriller... so why was it so boring?
Super Reviewer
May 15, 2006
This movie really doesn't have a single happy moment in it. It is a heavy and depressing reality based story about the struggles of one small, honest man. A story about how after being kicked in the head so many times and finally ending up losing everything, Sam Bicke snaps and decides to show the rich and powerful liars, for all the people who are being oppressed, the power of one grain of sand - because somebody has to stand up and fight the system!
Super Reviewer
October 29, 2006
The acting was amazing, the story was good. But this movie was depressing as all shit. Definitely not the feel-good movie of the summer.
Super Reviewer
January 16, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]My idea of a great performance is an actor who becomes totally unconcscious of an audience watching him and presents whatever ugly details of his character's personality life onscreen with ease.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic][color=darkred]"The Woodsman" is a movie about a child molester(played by Kevin Bacon, who is excellent) released from jail after twelve years, seeking to start a new life in Philadelphia. The central dilemma in the movie is posed the by the lead character when he asks: "When will I be alright?" The movie to its credit does not seek to give any easy answers to this question or seeks to cure the character. The most interesting thing about Bacon's character is revealed in a moment when he is talking with a 12 year old girl - it is the only point in the film when he is relaxed and at ease.[/color][/font]

[font=Century Gothic][color=sienna]While at the other end of the commonwealth in 1974 in "The Assassination of Richard of Nixon", Sean Penn plays Sam Bicke, a failed salesman who is in the middle of a new job as an office furniture salesman and in the middle of a disintegrating marriage.(Throughout the film, Bicke is in a constant state of denial and is constantly seeking to be reconciled in his marriage. But in one scene, he is flirting with an attractive customer and refers to his 'ex-wife'.) Sean Penn is extremely good but there is very little relief from this unpleasant character and at times, the movie feels like it is going to fall into a very prolonged Saturday Night Live sketch.(I couldn't think of anything worse to say.) What's interesting is to compare Bicke's breakdown to the same one that Nixon was supposedly undergoing in the White House at the same time. The movie's whole point seems to be success can only be gained when working with others.[/color][/font]
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2007
Another brilliant performance by Sean Penn developing a totally unique character that proves that his slip-ups (My Name is Sam) are thankfully few and far between.
Super Reviewer
December 3, 2013
I think Penn's outstanding performance somewhat makes up for the film's problems . . . he makes it appear engaging where a lesser actor would have floundered with the vague screenplay. The filmmakers go out of their way to establish Bicke as an angry outsider but they never really find a way to connect that with his attempt to assassinate Nixon or the voice recordings he sent to Leonard Bernstein.
Super Reviewer
July 4, 2006
I am taken aback by the lukewarm reception this movie has received. Sean Penn is a rare breed of actor, and this is a rare breed of character study. It is irrefutably Penn who dominates this picture with his meticulous examination of a broken man disillusioned by the superficiality of the world he occupies. His performance is comprised not of numerous strong choices, but of a total transformation that we rarely see. This is the type of film I really enjoy, and I was especially pleased by its echoes of the legendary character Travis Bickle. Intelligently directed, handsomely shot by Emmanuel Lubezki and written with a great actor in mind.
Super Reviewer
June 1, 2009
the previews collabortion of Watts and Penn (21 grams) will not be forgotten as easily as this slow but otherwise well acted, carefully constructed work.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
½ August 9, 2012
Sean Penn delivers a brilliant portrayle of Sam Bicke. I found the film somewhat great and sad. Bicke reminded me of another movie character named Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver" and the picture is also errie in it's hiijacking plot that would later be evident of the September 11 attacks.

The film shows archive footage of Nixon on television but Nixon is rarely important. Bicke is the main character so it's pretty much a character study of what it was like to live in his shoes...Bicke had a strong hatred of the society and the American system and then finally blaming all of his problems on Richard Nixon. He's going through a divorce, he wants to join and help the Black Panther Party, Bicke can't get a loan on a business he wants to start up, he's heading on a downward spiral that made me cringe and finally decides to end all of his problems by hiijacking an airliner and raming it right into the White House.

For an independent picture it's great. Niels Mueller and his crew do a fine job of recreating the 70's period. I'm sure Mueller probably watched "Taxi Driver" before shooting this film because there are scenes where Penn's character Bicke echoes Bickle, even right down to straping his gun down to his leg. This picture is not for everybody but as a character study it's somewhat mesmerizing.
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