The evil duo in this film reminded me of Hudson Hawk's Darwin and Minerva Mayflower (Richard Grant and Sandra Bernhard). That was not a fond memory. And the Matrix-style (as copied in "Mission Impossible 2") action sequences don't play as well in real life as they do in VR. I haven't been this disappointed in a film since "End of Days", and that was a much better film. But it wasn't as bad as "The Avengers". The only positive (other than gratuitous cleavage) was Bill Murray's performance. He did bring a few laughs to the crowd. And no, I couldn't tell where they did the FX to remove Drew Barrymore's "cottage cheese" from her thighs.
Jeff Bridges gives one of the finest performances of his career, and Joan Allen delivers a very credible portrayal of the nominee under fire. Also noteworthy were Gary Oldman, Sam Elliott, and Christian Slater. But the combination William L. Petersen's at-best average performance with a predictable and very obvious writing in an early key scene is a major distraction. It's difficult to focus on the acting when waiting for the much anticipated "unexpected" plot twist to bring this film to it's typical, mundane, "Hollywood", feel-good ending. Yes, Bridges' final speech is powerful, almost too good since it's better than the real thing, but we've seen this all before. The good guys win. The bad guys lose. The world is saved from evil.
We have elements of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "The American President" as well as a dozen other films here. We can now all trust Washington, because the "system" works and the righteous Joan Allen and Christian Slater working toward an honorable and honest government (guided by a savvy Jeff Bridges).
A minor but unnecessary inconsistency jumps out when nominee Joan Allen enjoys a cigar with President Jeff Bridges. Not much earlier, when stating her position on the "issue" to the Congressional committee, she blasts the tobacco industry and suggests criminal penalties for those who sell tobacco products. The movie is strongly dependent on her being consistent and unwavering in her views. Actually, this minor point undermines the entire film.
Good acting by the two leads, particularly Seidy Lopez -- very real, very believable. Because the cast is limited, and we know that there has to be a plot twist, It's not too hard to predict the "twist". But the relationship between the two leads is excellent.
Streep and Hurt show far too little subtlety until late in the film. They are caricatures. They make sense only if one assumes that what we are seeing is not reality, but Zellweger's twisted memory of events and personalities. Maybe, the director was trying to be that deep, but I don't think so.