Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) is a political strategist. She is known as “Calamity Jane” because she brings a certain level of chaos to elections she’s involved in. After having left the game, she is convinced to head to Bolivia the campaign of underdog, and former president Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida).
Jane isn’t particularly engaged in the campaign, partly due to altitude sickness, partly due to not caring. However, when she finds out her nemesis, Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton), is running the campaign of front-runner Rivera (Louis Arcella), things change.
As things heat up, Jane quickly returns to her old ways. Her approach is cut-throat and ruthless. Candy easily keeps pace with Jane and gives her a run for her money. As the election approaches, the previously despised Castillo may actually have a chance to win. Can Jane get him over the top? And if so, at what cost?
Our Brand is Crisis is “suggested” by a documentary on an actual election, during which some of the types of activities in the film may have actually kind of happened. Since it is merely suggested by the documentary, this gives the writers and director a fair amount of creative license.
I love Sandra Bullock. I always have. (Even if she has some missteps.) She and Billy Bob Thornton have a weird chemistry in this film, but it works. They play off each other well, as they try to one up each other on their campaigns. Anthony Mackie is fine in the film, but the role easily could have been played by anyone.
Within the movie, we get a behind the scenes look at what, quite possibly, actually goes on during an election. The strategists have their dirty tricks that have proven results. Whether or not they are ethical doesn’t really matter, as long as it works. No one, not even their own candidates are safe from their underhanded tactics.
Director David Gordon Green keeps the tone of the film is surprisingly light. What could have easily become a gritty political drama is sold as a comedy. Again, Bullock and Billy Bob do well in this type of film. It does, however, keep a hint of gravitas to keep it realistic enough that it doesn’t come across like The Campaign. Even if it does have a ridiculous Speed inspired bus chase.
And then we get to the third act of the film. After the election, everything changes. Bullock’s character takes a different turn. She becomes cold towards those she was close to previously. And the final scenes of the film seem like they are from that gritty, political drama I mentioned. I guess it kind of fits with her characters evolution, but it just feels like it doesn’t quite fit.
Overall, Our Brand is Crisis is an entertaining and eye-opening film about the dirty world of politics. It feels longer than its 107 minute run time, despite the quick pace of the film, but there’s a lot of story to fit in. It’s worth a watch.