Knife Fight

Having just sworn in our newly re-elected President we tend to forget the misrepresentations that were presented to us during the campaign run: both sides painting their own picture of the other, all in the hopes to sway our votes their way. The nice smiles and cheerful speeches that were relentlessly played or the smear ads that put down our hopeful candidates; all tactics used by political strategists to portray their clients in the best possible light. As Paul Turner, played by Rob Lowe, says “you have to be the person willing to bring a gun to a knife fight”; meaning that it’s a dirty, violent and deadly game.

Written and directed by Bill Guttentag (Live, Twin Towers) the film centers on Turner, a political strategist, currently dealing with three separate clients with high political aspirations. Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) plays Larry, a Kentucky Governor and David Harbour plays Stephen, a California Senator both whom are seeking re-election. His third client Penelope, played by Carrie-Anne Moss (Vegas, The Matrix), is a doctor running a free clinic with hopes of becoming the Governor of California. The film is an inside look as to how Paul and his team can persuade Americans into voting for his clients and in Penelope’s case, how to turn a nobody into a somebody.

Of course at times there are bumps in the road but in Paul’s case there never is a smooth ride. Nicknamed “The Master of Disaster” Paul is always running on all cylinders to keep his candidates away from danger. Coincidently both Larry and Stephen are in the midst of a sex scandal. Paul is quick to act and with the help of an old acquaintance Dimitris, played by Richard Schiff, enough dirt is dug up to sway the public and spin a new story. Not all situations are the same and this is where the story takes a turn. Paul handles each situation as if playing a video game: any causality is deemed collateral damage and just a part of the process to rectify the problem. Reality comes to give Paul a swift kick in the ass and make him re-evaluate what he has devoted his life to.

The film has a great cast that also includes Jennifer Morrison (Warrior), Jamie Chung (Suckerpunch), and Julie Bowen (Modern Family). Everyone had great chemistry and a likeable charm to them which was a plus with the material being covered. It’s weird to say but I like the film but dislike the material. It paints the American voter as a gullible, un-informed, robot that just does as we’re told. Throughout the film Paul and his team watch political endorsements and they are hailed as masterpieces equivalent to a Rembrandt or Picasso painting. The twist that is revealed at the end was a head scratcher because just when I thought Paul’s moral compass was re-aligned he flips the script and goes back to his old ways. As I said the cast is great and they have a phenomenal dynamic with each other but in the end it just couldn’t sway this viewer.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

In Theaters January 25th, 2013

On- Demand & Digital Release January 28th, 2013

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