What do you get when you combine a crazed Army Major, a power-hungry Senator who touches her son a little too lovingly, and an Army Private-turned-politician who has less personality than a rock but is poised to be the next Vice President? An experience that will leave you asking for your two hours and 10 minutes back.
Ben Marco (Denzel Washington) is an Army Major who served in Kuwait right before the Desert Storm. His troops, including Private Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), are ambushed by a rouge group who takes them in. After all the smoke clears, Raymond Shaw is heralded as a hero and given the Medal of Honor. He quickly goes into politics, and 12 years later Senator Shaw sits on the ticket as the Vice-Presidential nominee.
Marco has strange dreams every night about being back in Kuwait, strapped to electronic devices that turn control of his brain over to someone else. He slowly uncovers a plot that Raymond Shaw has an implant in his brain being controlled by a conglomerate corporation specializing in neuron science.
The most outlandish flaw with this movie is that there are so many plot twists it leaves the viewer disoriented rather than enlightened. The original version of this movie came out in 1962 and started Frank Sinatra, but back then it was communists who captured and controlled Shaw, hence the name "Manchurian" after the communist-controlled region of China. This time around it's capitalists who are doing the dirty deeds. There are many elements of the story that are introduced but never explained, including the fact that Marco will only eat Cup O'Noodle soup. The final ingredient in this concoction is an ending that builds you up for a wonderful climax, but it never comes. You realize that you're still gripped to your seat waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel as the screen turns off and the guy cleaning the floors tells you it's time to go home.