Power movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySidney Lumet
Written byDavid Himmelstein
Produced byReene Schisgal
Mark Tarlov
Kenneth Utt
Wolfgang Glattes
CinematographyAndrzej Bartkowiak
Edited byAndrew Mondshein
Music byCy Coleman
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • January 31, 1986 (1986-01-31)
Running time
111 minutes
Budget$14 million[1]
Box office$3,800,000[2]

Power is a 1986 political drama film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Richard Gere. The original screenplay by David Himmelstein focuses on political corruption and how power affects both those who wield it and the people they try to control.

Denzel Washington's performance in the film as public relations expert Arnold Billings earned him the 1987 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. Beatrice Straight's performance as Claire Hastings earned her a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actress.


Pete St. John (Richard Gere), a ruthless and highly successful media consultant, is juggling a couple of political candidates when he is asked to join the campaign of wealthy but little-known businessman Jerome Cade (J. T. Walsh), who hopes to win the Senate seat being vacated by St. John's friend Sam Hastings (E.G. Marshall).

St. John comes into conflict with Arnold Billings (Denzel Washington), a public relations expert whose firm Cade has hired. St. John's investigation into Cade's background prompts Billings to retaliate by bugging St. John's office phones, flooding the basement of his headquarters, tampering with his private jet, and interfering with his other clients.

These actions force St. John to examine himself and what he has become and to decide whether his ex-wife Ellen Freeman (Julie Christie) and his former partner Wilfred Buckley (Gene Hackman) are right in believing that his success is due primarily to the exploitation of others.


Critical reception

Vincent Canby of The New York Times, described the film as "a well-meaning, witless, insufferably smug movie that...suffers from the total lack of a comic imagination."[3]

Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times, gave it a positive but qualified review and wrote, "Because these relationships are so well-written and acted, and because Power seems based on a wealth of research about the world of campaign professionals, the movie builds up considerable momentum during its first hour. There's a sense of excitement, of identification with this man who is being driven by his own energy, ambition and cynicism . . . During the second half of the movie, however, a growing disappointment sets in. Power is too episodic. It doesn't really declare itself to be about any particular story, any single clear-cut issue . . . The climax is a pointless, frustrating montage of images. It's a good montage, but it belongs somewhere in the middle of the movie; it states the problem, but not the solution or even the lack of a solution. The movie seems to be asking us to walk out of the theater shaking our heads in disillusionment, but I was more puzzled than disillusioned . . . It's smart, it's knowledgeable, sometimes it's funny, occasionally it is very touching, and I learned something from it. That is almost enough, I suppose; it's more than most movies provide."[4]

On Rotten Tomatoes, it has 50% score based on 12 reviews.[5] On Metacritic it has a 50% score, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ "The Unstoppables". Spy. November 1988. p. 92.
  2. ^ "Power (1986)". Box Office Mojo.
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent (31 January 1986). "SCREEN: 'POWER,' BY SIDNEY LUMET". New York Times.
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (31 January 1986). "Reviews: Power". RogerEbert.com. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 19 June 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Power". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2021-12-12.