Though she seems detestable on the surface — cold, calculated, cynical and conniving — Elizabeth Sloane is the kind of character you can't help but root for. She's a woman in the boys club that is Washington, D.C. lobby groups, and watching Jessica Chastain (as the film's title character) eviscerate the competition is a joy to watch. This is one of her most complex lead roles yet, and the precision she brings to it makes this mediocre political thriller far more enjoyable than it should be.
That being said, Miss Sloane is a relevant fit for theatres this holiday season considering the current political climate, where the warping of reality and never knowing what world leaders mean or believe is the new normal.
At the start of the film, we see Chastain's character preparing for a court hearing, talking about the secrets to being a good lobbyist: staying two steps ahead, comparing it to chess and other clichés. It's not really surprising, then, that most of the movie's action revolves around her doing just that after she switches sides and decides to take on her toughest opponent yet: the gun lobby.
Tensions are high throughout, despite some side-dramas involving her lack of a romantic partner, children and sleep (and her mild drug addiction because of it), all of which ultimately weigh down the movie's progression and never really add up to anything (save for one that would spoil the ending if revealed here).
Like a lot of political movies set in modern times, Miss Sloane has a few too many moving parts that get in the way and is pretty predictable from the first few sentences onwards. From the get-go, we're told that Sloane has a Keyser Söze-like skill for thinking ahead to the final move, so even when it seems like things are falling apart, they're really just falling into a place. A few red herrings emerge to throw viewers off the scent, but by the film's climax, it's easy to guess what's really happening.
Ultimately, Miss Sloane gets the big picture wrong, but at least it gets its protagonist right.