If you are cynical about politicians and politicking, you may want to skip this movie. Not one of the main characters in this story fares well. You definitely do not want to be these people on screen. The story reinforces citizens’ worst assumptions about politics. But politics is only the sea these fish are swimming in. The story is an old one about the human condition.
The theme is about forgiveness for failings. Each of us is flawed. We make mistakes. We make errors in judgment. We give in to a weakness. Sometimes, not all the time. And what is the price for the time(s) we fail? Which acts are not forgivable? What decision changes everything? Some of these answers are self-evident. Others are a close call. Still others are arbitrary. Depends of which day you slip up or in which context. And what the fallout is. Who got hurt? What were the consequences? Can the problem be fixed? Can you roll back the tape? Can you ask for mercy? A do-over? A second chance? And who is making the decision about your future regarding the bad thing you did? Complicated, isn’t it? Sometimes not. Sometimes it is black and white. You make a bad decision, and you must accept the consequences. Pay now or pay later on Earth or, for believers, in Heaven or a next life. For some things you do not get a pass no matter what the result—unless your God forgives all sins.
The prize in this film story is the White House. The conflict is about what any one person is willing to do to win the prize because the prize-winner will make a vast impact on the nation and world. Not to mention the ego-boost of being on the list with George Washington. You figure democracy is messy? You suspect everyone has secrets? You warn, Trust no one? You believe that power corrupts? You assume that everything is a deal and no deal is too small? Here it is in high-definition.