Director: Niels Mueller
Starring: Sean Penn, Don Cheadle, Jack Thompson,
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Date: 14 April 2005
the winter of 1974, a time of great political unrest, Samuel
J. Bicke (Sean Penn) is a forty-four-year-old man who wants
to believe in something – anything. But at every turn,
his faith -- in himself and in the world around him -- is
undermined. He is separated from his wife, Marie (Naomi Watts),
who refuses to consider the reconciliation he wants so desperately.
He is estranged from his brother Julius (Michael Wincott),
a businessman whose success mocks Bicke’s constant string
of professional failures. And, with his personal life in such
disarray, he is also struggling to hold onto yet another job
for which he is fundamentally unfit. An idealist who detests
lying in any form, Bicke is miserable working as a salesman
in an office supply company, a position that routinely requires
him to be insincere, opportunistic, and deceitful.
The only bright spot in Bicke’s life is his dream of
opening a door-to-door tire repair service with his auto mechanic
friend, Bonny (Don Cheadle). Their business proposal requires
a modest bank loan. Bicke applies and nervously waits the
requisite period for the loan application to be processed.
He is on edge the whole time because the outcome -- his only
chance at a meaningful future -- is so important to him. As
his anxiety mounts, Bicke begins to fall apart, and in his
vulnerable state, sees injustice and hypocrisy everywhere.
He thinks it is wrong that Marie, who works at a bar to support
their three children, has to wear short skirts to get bigger
tips. Or, that Bonny’s customers at the garage get away
with being abusive just because he is black.
Bicke would like to strike out at all the offenders, but there
are too many dragons to slay. However, there is one villain
who looms large. For Bicke, Richard Nixon, described by Bicke’s
boss (Jack Thompson) as the greatest salesman in history because
he swindled the American people twice, becomes the embodiment
of everything that is wrong with the world.
When Bicke experiences a series of ill-fated events -- his
loan is rejected, his ex-wife and his brother abandon him,
and his dreams of starting his own business die unrealized
-- he decides the only way to reclaim his insignificant life
is to carry out a grand, historic gesture that will make his
presence felt. At this point, dreams give way to delusions.
A new Samuel Bicke, uncharacteristically resolute and resourceful,
sets out on a chilling crusade to right the world’s
wrongs. He has an appointment with history.
acquisition of great wealth and success is possible provided
that you believes that you have the talent, intelligence,
and an enourmous willingness to work extremely hard. This
were the fundamental concept of the American Dream, which
has always been a much debatable subject. Some had criticised
that the American dream is misleading since not everyone is
capable of becoming prosperous through beliefs and hard work,
making those unsuccessful bearing the poor feeling that their
failures is due to their laziness and intelligence. For these
individual, who was incongruous to the American dream, the
route to dreamland may be the way towards insanity!
is true for someone like Samuel J. Bicke (Sean Penn), a nervous
and unsure furniture salesman who were reluctant to the gradual
break up of his marriage. Samuel tried desperately to succeed
at his workplace in the bid to win back his family. However,
reality is cruel to dreamers. His world soon tumbles in a
time of political unrest and racial segregation. Devastated
and disillusioned, he starts to believe that the person responsible
for his and all American’s plight is the “Greatest
salesman of America”, Richard Nixon, the 37th President
of America. He decided that someone has to make the famous
wake up their idea. Taking “justice” in his own
hands, he soon develops and put into action the plot to assassinate
Nixon was not assassinated by him. For those who knew some
American Politics, Richard Nixon had resigned mainly due to
the Watergate scandal in Aug 1974, making him the first American
President to do so. Although, the movie title may suggest
a political genre, but you do not expect much talk about politics
in the movie, neither do you expect to see some Hollywood
style car chasing and guns tattering scenes between FBI agents
and the assassinator. What’s left is a sad tale of a
man trying hard to keep afloat of the Amercian dream while
every life difficult events seem to adore him, forcing him
to take a suicide route as a relieve of his circumstances.
could not have been another best candidate than Sean Penn
for the role of Samuel J. Picke. It is an ultimate enjoyment
watching him executing the role. It would be pathetic to put
into words, the brilliant of Sean Penn, who is undisputable,
the finest actor alive in Hollywood now.
Penn aside, the movie was, unfortunately, very much predictable,
all thanks to the movie title (what else to expect from the
movie except “The assassination of Richard Nixon”?).
The movie touches little on anything else except the route
that Samuel took to assassinate Nixon. As a result, even the
runtime of merely 90 minutes seem too long. The filmmaker's
way of telling
the story “backward” from the end to the beginning
of how things happen does not surprise the audience since
many other movies nowadays used such techniques. Finally,
the building up of Samuel’s reasons on his assassination
on Nixon is insufficient to gain any empathy from most Singaporeans,
who has been enjoying political and racial stability on a
land with zero assassination attempts on political figures.
Review by Leosen Teo