The Assassination of Richard Nixon - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Assassination of Richard Nixon Reviews

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cosmo313
Super Reviewer
December 11, 2012
Heard about it several years ago, and have been intrigued ever since.
½ December 7, 2012
I didn't like this movie, mainly because of the obsessiveness of the main character, that should be, in the intensions of the director and the production, probably the strong point of the entire project. In fact they bet on a great "horse" for the role. The bet was won, because Sean Penn was so believable you didn't even think for a second that he was acting. Unfortunately I can't stand psycho and "losers" characters in the movies I watch, and this really influenced my watching (also did influence the watching the three big pauses I had to take for lack of time).
October 21, 2012
I watched this one tonight, and had mixed feelings. The film itself never really reaches the potential it's trying to reach....on the other hand, Penn gives a phenomenal performance. Kind of a downer movie, based on a true story. If you're feeling depressed, this is NOT the movie you should pick up!! All actors do a great job.
½ August 27, 2012
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.
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.
½ June 30, 2012
I think Sean Penn is one of the best contemporary actors. But even if I were to evaluate the film regardless his performance -it's really hard- I would give it no doubt the same vote. The storyboard, the music and the photography are great. I think it well describes both the decline of the American dream and the slow and difficult journey of a mind that surrenders to the madness. Highly recommended.
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.
June 27, 2012
Sean Penn spelar förmodligen Sam Bicke bättre än Sam Bicke spelade Sam Bicke!
June 26, 2012
The Assassination of Richard Nixon was a good film, but it gave me a really uncomfortable feeling that didn't feel resolved by its end. It certainly sympathises with Byck/Bicke and tries to shed some light on his motives and Sean Penn does a fine job, but it's relentlessly downcast (and not in a good way) and tries to justify someone who was essentially trying to do something illegal. Does 30 years make a down-and-out man's plot to assassinate the President of the United States justified? Reading up on Byck, it really seems like he wasn't as sane as the film makes him out to be (but then again, it's acknowledged he was recording messages for Bernstein, a composer). The film does touch on this, but it's not so evident and I felt like it had a bit of a wrong approach in framing the true account.
½ June 14, 2012
Dull, and not very objective in its story-telling (like many Sean Penn movies). Apparently based on a true story, it would be good to know how much of it is actually true. You get the sneaky feeling that a (mostly) fictional back-story was added to an event, with a left-wing agenda.

Too much time spent on minor details, and thus very slow-developing. Problem is, without all the padding, it would probably be less an hour long! Hardly a movie, then.

Sean Penn is perfectly cast as the would-be assassin: I would always have picked him as the actor most likely to assassinate a Republican president. His performance, in keeping with the slow-moving pace of the movie, is stunted, frustrating and irritating.
May 11, 2012
It was good but a little boring. Sean Penn did a good job.
½ April 9, 2012
no hay nada más deprimente que la eterna frustración ._.
March 5, 2012
Here is a film where the title lies to you. There is no assassination of Richard Nixon in this film. Oh, there's an attempt, but unless you live in a delusion, Nixon wasn't ever assassinated. I suppose you could change that little detail and make an intriguing film, but then the tagline of "inspired by true events" would read as even more of a lie than it already does.

The Assassination of Richard Nixon stars Shaun Penn as Samuel Bicke, a salesman as we open up the film. He has ideals, just like most people, but he's willing to fight for his. He hates dishonesty, and as a result, has never been able to hold down a job for very long. Why he wants to be a salesman at all is beyond me, considering once he gets the job he and his boss lie all the time, but I suppose supporting your family comes before ideals. His family is broken; he and his wife, Marie (Naomi Watts) have separated, and he only gets to see his children every Sunday.

He has one friend, from all accounts, who comes in the form of a mechanic named Bonny (Don Cheadle). They plan, at one point, to start a tire distribution service, although we later learn that loans take 8-10 weeks to get approved, and having a black man as your partner is likely to get you turned down. Remember, this is the 1970s, as the film incessantly tells us, although for a lot of the time, it doesn't feel like it takes place in the 70s.

Most of the film consists of Sam going around hating what his life has turned into, as well as hating the lengths that people go to in order to have a better life. He hates every boss on earth for making their employees (which he deems should really be called "slaves") do demeaning things, while he really hates Richard Nixon for spreading lies. We see a lot of shots of Nixon talking to reporters and interviewers, which is just about as much of the 70s appeal as we get.

This is a downer of a film, although I felt mostly indifference while watching it. If our main character would just stop his insufferable whining once in a while, he probably wouldn't have such a terrible life. It's clear that he doesn't gel with the current American values. I wonder if he ever considered moving. Regardless, this is a film about a man who doesn't ever do anything to improve his situation.

Like I said earlier, this film is based on true events. There was a man named Samuel Byck (why the spelling was changed for the film is something I don't care about), and his situation was similar to how it was portrayed in this film. If that's the case, then he had a miserable life but should have picked up his socks and done something about it. Or maybe he should have moved, because it's clear that he and America didn't get along very well.

This doesn't mean that Sean Penn didn't give a good performance here. He's nuanced, and we're never sure exactly what he's going to do. It's effective, although coming from Penn, it isn't much of a surprise. Supporting roles are also strong, but the supporting cast doesn't get near enough time to do anything of importance. This is a problem. We spend too much time with Penn, and not enough with Cheadle, Watts, or anyone else in the supporting cast.

I didn't like this. Other characters are potentially more empathetic than Penn's is. Sam's wife has to hold a family together, and at one point, we see her with another man. Nothing is done with that, though. Bonny is a black man who may or may not be discriminated against frequently, but nothing comes of that either. These situations that could have been far more interesting than the story of the most pathetic man in the world.

The plot spends a great deal of time showing us why we're supposed to care about this man, although mostly we just sit around and watch him mope and complain about his life. Have I made this clear yet? When discussing the plot, though, it means that not a whole lot actually happens, with the decision to try to kill Nixon and going through with that plan taking maybe 20 minutes out of the entire film. There's not a lot of build-up to the attempt, even though we do understand that he doesn't like Nixon very much. Apart from being such an idealist and hating liars, he has no defining personality traits and doesn't get to develop except for having that hatred build inside him until he finally snaps.

Considering how long it takes for us to get to the assassination, I thought for the longest time that it would be a metaphorical killing of the ideas that Nixon was bringing to his campaign. But, no, that might have been interesting, so the film doesn't take that approach. Yes, I understand it's meant to be based on a true story, but a note in the credits tells us that it isn't rooted solely in fact. This tells me that liberties were taken, and it also tells me that more should have been taken to assure that we don't get a boring film.

The Assassination of Richard Nixon is a boring film about a man who was too stupid to help himself in his life. As a result, he tried to kill the president of the United States. The acting is good, but the only character that got enough screentime was Sean Penn's, despite his character being the least interesting of the batch. I also didn't feel like I was back in the 1970s, which meant the immersion needed wasn't there.
March 3, 2012
Somewhat disturbing and unpleasant but the good acting from Penn and the great retro look make it rather watchable.
½ February 27, 2012
A cool flick driven by one of the coolest actors around. Well bookended, and well shot throughout.
February 18, 2012
It's good. Don't watch it.
½ February 14, 2012
a real fucking boring movie with an amazing performance by Sean Fucking Penna real fucking boring movie with an amazing performance by Sean Fucking Penn
February 3, 2012
A very well done film. I found it really hard to watch at times, mainly because I could identify so well with Sean Penn's character. No worries though, I have no assassination plans in mind. Worth watching.
January 18, 2012
Great portrayal of a man who wasn't too bright to start with descending into full-out madness. Sean Penn plays outsiders well, and this is no exception. However, the movie itself is stuck with how to get from point A to B in an interesting manner, and it doesn't really succeed. Other than Penn, there's really no one in this film worth watching, as it's all about how an average man loses the plot and how he plans to take it out on the unfair world that's holding him back. At times this is painful to watch, awkward watching the socially inept Bicke (Penn) navigate a job where he's nearly worthless, a wife who's already moved on but can't get him to figure that out, and a friend who seems more bothered by him than anything else. The movie is sad, a sad end to a sad man's sad existence. Worth it for Penn's performance, but still kind of drags, as we've figured out early on what's going to happen, even if we don't know the real life story (this was based on a real life story, which makes it even sadder).
½ December 30, 2011
A movie off the beaten track of hollywood cinematography. Great acting by Sean Penn. But for me too slow and too... off.
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