John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls (2018)

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Critic Consensus: John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls serves as as a thoughtful living portrait that evades mawkish territory.

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Following more than 31 years of public service, the six-term senior Arizona senator agreed to participate in the film shortly after being diagnosed with brain cancer, providing unprecedented access to his daily life in Washington, D.C. and Sedona, Arizona. The film features interviews with family, friends, colleagues and leading political figures such as former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Mesmerized at 12 years old by Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls," Sen. McCain has used the book as a guide for his life. This sweeping account draws on his own voice, culled from original interviews, commentary and speeches, archival newsreel and television footage, and previously unseen home movies and photographs. Recounting everything from his years spent as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War to running for president, the documentary paints an important portrait of an American maverick who has never lost courage and has kept his eye on America's most important goals. John McCain's life is a story of triumph, defeat and resilience -- six decades of, in his words, "imperfect service to my country," in which the mistakes he made were redeemed by the risks he took and the sacrifices he made for the county he loves.

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Critic Reviews for John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (8)

An insightful, poignant, journalistically sound profile that gives McCain his due, but steers clear of hagiography.

May 30, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

It's an altogether new form of tribute: Having one's last word while being able to hear the things everyone will say when you're really gone.

May 29, 2018 | Full Review…

The respect and admiration for the cancer-afflicted POW turned Arizona senator is non-partisan and clearly more than pro forma during this 1 hour, 45 minute film.

May 29, 2018 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
Uncle Barky
Top Critic

It's certainly an inspirational portrait; it's also a blatant exercise in legacy management... Still, For Whom is entirely convincing, even moving, in its intimation that McCain's passing will mark the alarming disappearance of the GOP's old guard.

May 29, 2018 | Full Review…

First and foremost, this documentary is as a moving farewell to a flawed, but still admirable, man. But it also comes across as another type of good-bye, one to the basic civility Americans once were able to take for granted in the political realm.

May 29, 2018 | Full Review…

There are reasons that one might differ with his politics, but there's no disputing his accomplishments, or his moments of bravery...

May 25, 2018 | Full Review…

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