(director: John Madden; screenwriter: Jonathan Perera; cinematographer: Sebastian Blenkov; editor: Alexander Berner; music: Max Richter; cast: Jessica Chastain (Elizabeth Sloane), Mark Strong (Rodolfo Schmidt), Alison Pill (Jane Malloy), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Esme Manucharian), John Lithgow (Congressman Ron M. Sperling), Michael Stuhlbarg (Pat Connors), Jack Lacy (Forde), Sam Waterson (George Dupont), Chuck Schumata (Bob Sanford), Dylan Baker (Jon O’Neill), Lucy Owen (Cynthia), David Wison Barnes (Daniel Posner); Runtime: 132; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Ben Browning, Kris Thykier, Ariel Zeitoun; EuropaCorp; 2016)

A Jessica Chastain star performance.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”/”The Debt”) ably directs this fire-breathing middle-brow melodrama from a fierce script by first-timer Jonathan Perera. The old-fashioned political justice thriller is well-served by a Jessica Chastain star performance, who is aided by fine support from John Lithgow and Sam Waterson.Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is an unapologetic hyper-driven lobbyist, located in Washington, D.C., who is known for her winning and cunning ways. When miffed at her high-powered lobby firm run by George Dupont (Sam Waterson) and their willingness to try and sucker women to support the well-oiled gun lobby run by Sanford (Chuck Schumata), she transfers to a low-powered non-profit firm run byRodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong, British actor) in order to get a new gun control bill passed and also face the challenge of winning as an underdog. Sloane proves capable of playing dirty to win, even if it exposes her co-worker, Esme (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), to a childhood incident she wants kept secret. The Dupont firm also plays dirty and exposes Sloane’s need to be serviced by male escorts like the hunk Forde (Jake Lacy) and they also bribe Congressman Sperling (John Lithgow), an investigating ethics committee chairman, to go after her or else lose their financial support. Though it hits on all the power-points in the right-wing and left-wing arguments over gun control, everything sounds programmed. Its main aim was to send the message that a woman was just as capable as a man in running things in Washington for better or worse (a pro Hillary argument).