I expected badness from the new version of The Manchurian Candidate. I expected the ground to shift to corporations, attempts at satirising US politics and a watering down of the po-faced conspiracy side to accommodate a modern thriller plot. I was right in expecting the removal of some of the sillier aspects of the original, including the lamentable loss of “Are you Arabic” and the Queen Of Heart motif. I did not expect it to be replaced by something even sillier, and a bolt-on happy ending. Conspiracy thrillers should not have happy endings. You cannot overcome the conspiracy after all, just win temporary victories. Watching the members of the Manchurian Corporation (I know) hold their heads in their hands after their tenuous thirteen year old plot went pop was laughable. And as the set up is the same as the Sinatra version, it still remains one of the daftest conspiracies ever.

You hijack an army troop mid war. You implant them all with mind control devices to enhance the reputation of one of them, who you are grooming for presidency. Never mind that the kid in question is a billy-no-mates stick in the mud. Rather than exploit all the potential of ten trained soldiers you have in your control, you kill nearly all of them, just to improve the lot of this one. Who still seems to have vestiges of free will at the end of the day. No wonder they were pissed off at Manchurian. It was a stupid plot.

The film boils down to two Oscar winners overacting to win the film. Streep edges it over Washington (rubbish as ever), but then you remember Angela Lansbury in the original and Streep has to fold. Remaking the Manchurian Candidate is not a bad idea, but in removing the (good) silly with (dull) silly and changing the end leaves us with a watered down, feel-good conspiracy thriller. This is probably a conspiracy in itself.