John Madden directs Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michael Stuhlbarg in this political drama about a hard nosed lobbyist who crosses over to the side of gun control.
This whole lengthy walker / talker orbits around a supposed powerhouse performance by Chastain. Yet she remains an enigma throughout, blurry at her ill defined edges, inhuman… and not in a dastardly way. As an insight into the world of cut throat influence groups it share more with the pulpy Grisham novels Sloane reads in her downtime than say the high watermark passionate exploration of a The Social Network or a Moneyball. That’s the inimitable power Aaron Sorkin brings to his own potentially dull corporate dramas, a power no-one has ever got close to matching, certainly not here. You feel your own knowledge of this lobbying subculture is being affirmed, rather than expanded. Unforgivably though, the twists are foreseeable, especially the final piece of brinkmanship involving a support member who is too good to be cast aside from the main thrust quite so early. Bragging time, I rarely get caught pants down by a narrative switcheroo these days, I’m as cynical and searching as the avatars here are supposed to be. But a movie like this really should try much much harder to at least obfuscate its surprise coup de grace to battle hardened eyes. Not awful, merely a slick fail.