03rd Dec2018

‘The Front Runner’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons, Mark O’Brien, Molly Ephraim, Chris Coy, Alex Karpovsky, Josh Brener, Tommy Dewey, Kaitlyn Dever, Oliver Cooper, Jenna Kanell, RJ Brown, Alfred Molina | Written by Jason Reitman, Matt Bai, Jay Carson | Directed by Jason Reitman


Jason Reitman, coming off the incredibly controversial and mixed acclaim of Tully, teams up with Hugh Jackman for The Front Runner. A story that details Gary Hart’s chaotic campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and the onslaught and fallout of controversy that followed. It is without a doubt a true return to form for Reitman with the film affirming the extraordinary talents of both Reitman as writer/director and the ever-evolving range and filmography that Hugh Jackman is achieving.

The first thing to notice is the pacing. It is astronomically quick. Never in a pedantic or overly zealous manner. Editor Stefan Grube manages to perfectly balance the subject manner in a terrific blend of information and entertainment for the audience to both be engaged and informed on the matter at hand, which is at best of times a slow but sure ride into the evolving world of politics and the expose the begins to develop. Hart as a character is difficult one to value, or even root for but certainly one to admire. Quiet and stoic, a character as such doesn’t offer much in the wake of engagement. This is where the terrific performance of Jackman is implemented to pull in an audience who is somewhat distant, via a configuration of humanising and grounding said character with a superb delivery of the screenplay and strong screen presence.

The issue that arises with Reitman’s film is the relevance of such a story in 2018. What is it exactly trying to say with a damning expose on the investigative media on a man who was in certain terms deceitful to his career and overall cause? At a point, there is no turning back for a character who is, in essence, a villain of the piece, yet Reitman and Jackman are seemingly on a path to try and deneutralize such and offer him as a sympathetic character who made a mistake, who happened to repeat such on multiple occasions. It is a natural and flat assessment of the political conundrum, neither feeling a lean on either Left or Right wing condemnation.

Even contextually so it offers little to speak on such a topic, which is incredibly relevant in the age of 2018 with such a deplorable chief in charge. Is The Front Runner trying to suggest we forget personality and compassion for policy? Is it questioning the loyalty to a party or person? We don’t really know nor find out and Reitman’s film isn’t really at all bothered to explore such themes. Limping to the finish line for an audience to figure out where they stand with a poor argument for and against. Going stranger, The Front Runner does come into a strange territory especially concerning the relationship between friends Jackman, his partner and Ivanka Trump, daughter of the current president of the United States of America. The lines feel burned and unfortunately, the goal or purpose is muddled in a pool of unconvincing and fake principals. A factor that makes The Front Runner interesting but never convincing.

The Front Runner is in US cinemas now, the film comes to the UK on January 11th 2019.


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