The Contender

Critics Consensus

The Contender wears its political heart on its sleeve, but strong performances and a solid screenplay help the end result add up to a gripping drama from either side of the aisle.



Total Count: 130


Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,281
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The Contender Photos

Movie Info

The hard-ball gamesmanship and casual character assassination of American politics sets the stage for this thriller from writer and director Rod Lurie. When the Vice President of the United States unexpectedly dies, all eyes in Washington D.C. are on President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges) as he chooses a new VP. Sen. Jack Hathaway (William Petersen), a respected career politician enjoying a new swell of popularity after a well-publicized attempt to save a drowning woman, is expected to be Evans' choice, but instead he picks Sen. Laine Hanson (Joan Allen), a decision that raises eyebrows on both sides of the political fence. Veteran power broker Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman) is vehemently opposed to Hanson's appointment, in part because the Democratic senator was once a Republican, and vows to do everything in his power to prevent her from being confirmed. Runyon and his staff start digging for dirt on Hanson, and soon make a surprising discovery -- her personal morality is called into question when it's alleged that she took part in a group sexual liaison while she was a college student. The Contender also stars Mike Binder as one of Hanson's advisors, Mariel Hemingway as an old friend with a surprising secret, Christian Slater as an ambitious congressmen assisting Runyon, and Philip Baker Hall as Hanson's father; it was the second feature from former film critic Rod Lurie. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Jeff Bridges
as President Evans
Robin Thomas
as William
Douglas Urbanski
as Makerowitz
Kevin Geer
as Skakle
Doug Roberts
as Harding
Kevin Greer
as Congressman Skakle
Bev Appleton
as Congressman Marshall
Tony Booth
as Peter Crenshaw
Andrew C. Boothby
as Steve Poullet
Irene Ziegler
as Maggie Runyon
Del Driver
as Director Friend
Bill Bevins
as Anchorman
Ed Sala
as Show Producer
Kirk Penberthy
as Stevenson
Justin Dary
as Stagehand
David Laubacher
as Reporter No. 4
Kevin Grantz
as Secret Service Chief
Michael Kennedy
as Congressman Fletcher
David Londoner
as Congressman Jones
Billy Dye
as Waiter
Larry King
as Himself
Amit Mehta
as ABU Hunter
Greg Cooper
as Ted Edwards
Scoot Powell
as Attorney
Catherine Shaffner
as Patricia Lavameer
William L. Chandler
as Peronal Waiter
Liz Marks
as Sheila
Robert Harvey
as Lobbyist
Steve Hurwitz
as Lobbyist
Ric Young
as Reporter
Lynn West
as Reporter
Dave Guertler
as Reporter
Heather Ann Rosbeck
as Elaine Bidwell
Donald Campen Jr.
as Sergeant at arms
Justin Lewis
as Producer
Fred Iacovo
as Joe Smith
Dawn Westbrook
as Secretary
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News & Interviews for The Contender

Critic Reviews for The Contender

All Critics (130) | Top Critics (35)

Audience Reviews for The Contender

  • Sep 02, 2010
    Rod Lurie's "The Contender" is a well made political thriller that focuses on Rebulican turned Democrat Laine Hanson(Joan Allen) as the new appointed VP. Things strart to turn ugly for Hanson, a man named Shelly Runyon(Gary Oldman) does not feel Hanson should be up for the job as the next Vice President. Runyon will find anything in his means to put an end to Hanson political career. Inside sources has managed to find explicit footage of Hanson engage in an sexual romp during her youthful college days(Uh-oh) which leads to a media-televised investigation. There is an intense meeting in The White House involving Democratic U.S. President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges) and his right hand man Chief of Staff Kermit Newman(Sam Elliot)and Hanson. The two men want Hanson to confess but Allen is strong and would rather lose her VP nomination rather then making her personal private life anybody's business. Another great scene at the Presidential party, where you have all the characters finally meeting at the oval office. Jackson Evans puts all the pieces together all the pieces thanks to an impressive dossier by secret agent Special Agent Paige Willomina (Katheryn Morris). Lurie's film is one of those pictures that makes you want to debate and ask questions after. The dialogue is funny yet wicked. This is a really great film.
    Brian R Super Reviewer
  • Sep 02, 2010
    A decent, if very flawed and Hollywood-ized political thriller concerning the President (Jeff Bridges) having to fill the void of Vice President, and deciding between a very well-respected governor (William L. Peterson), and a woman senator (Joan Allen) with an apparent dark past. This movie has all the ingredients to be a smash - Joan Allen at her finest, Jeff Bridges having fun as the President, Gary Oldman playing sleazy, heck even Sam Elliott is a key part of the whole thing, sadly the movie falls flat on its face at its ridiculously over-the-top finale that left me feeling betrayed. While it pulls some twists that are original and somewhat conceivable, the last 5 minutes of the movie turn this film from being a respectable political thriller into an okay but unsatisfying movie that decided to get too dramatic instead of sticking with the subtle but effective card it played so well for most of the story. Not horrible, but certainly skip-able.
    Dan S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2010
    Some say when your in the public eye your no longer are entitled to your privacy that you must live a life that is essentially perfect and without scandal. this is especially true for politicians who have had more scandals under them than actors, lawyers and Presidents. So most politicians due what they must they hid the truth and lie about there past, they lie so they can do what they have always wanted to to do serve there Country. But some of them get lost along the way and lose sight of what they original got into politics for. So I ask you this what happens when you take a seemingly squeaky clean senator(Joan Allen), a contender for the vice presidency and dig into her past to uncover a shocking and lurid truth that will break the backs of the higher Archy of the nation's political system. You get what most would call the lying game Laine Hanson's(Joan Allen) case she takes on playing the solitary game a game few have ever won.
    C.R. L Super Reviewer
  • Mar 18, 2010
    <i>"Sometimes you can assassinate a leader without firing a shot."</i> Sexy secrets from a womans past come to light as she runs for Vice President. <center><font size=+2 face="Century Schoolbook"><b><u>REVIEW</u></b></font></center> Political imbroglio drama with a what if premise: What if the first nominee for Vice President of the United States had an indecent sexual past leading to her character in question vilification by the select committee in appointing her? Loaded with potboiler red herrings and questionable attacks on loyalty are just a few of the gaping holes in this heavy handed but extremely well acted morality play thanks largely to the always solid Allen as the stolid, uncompromising candidate in question who will not kowtow to the powers that be including the equally on target Oldman (in a Farrelly Brothers' inspired hairstyle) as her chief nemesis and Bridges as the folksy, yet smarter than he appears Commander in Chief.
    Lorenzo v Super Reviewer

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