Movie review: 'Kill The Messenger'

Oct 17, 2014, 14:28 IST | Mihir Fadnavis

'Kill The Messenger'
A; Thriller/Drama;
Director: Michael Cuesta
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Andy Garcia, Tim Blake Nelson

'Kill The Messenger' movie review
Jeremy Renner in 'Kill The Messenger'

Jeremy Renner stars as Gary Webb, a journalist in the 90's who is about to be embroiled in the most sensational story of his career — a link between the CIA and Nicaraguan cocaine smuggling. Webb goes nose deep in his investigation and along with a local drug lord (Andy Garcia) and his lawyer (Tim Blake Nelson), he uncovers some shocking details about the entire case. Fully aware that he won't be able to get the CIA to spill the beans, he goes ahead with his article. After it is published, the American media goes into a tizzy, but Webb has little idea what lies in store for him. If you have followed any case where the wrongdoings of the US intelligence were exposed, the accusers didn't exactly have a fun ride.

The film goes into detail about how Webb's life became much like Edward Snowden's (remember the bespectacled American computer professional who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency?). Webb's personal life becomes an open book, but, interestingly, the film chronicles his ego boost every time there is a new expose. Renner puts forward the best performance of his life as a man completely in love with himself and swelling with pride for cracking one of the biggest investigations of all time, while still hiding the skeletons in his own closet.

The film is adapted from Nick Schou's book of the same name and Webb's own Dark Alliance. And while it may not be as cinematically thrilling as 'The Insider' or as fun as Steven Soderbergh's The Informant, 'Kill the Messenger' holds the audience's attention from start to end. The strong supporting cast of Rosemarie DeWitt, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Oliver Platt help keep things interesting. The film also does a good job of making you think if Webb's tactics were sound to begin with. He could have been more careful in going about his job instead of straightaway publishing his article. He could have thought about how his own wrongdoings in the past would affect the case. We are left to wonder if the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal which also happened at the same time overshadowed Webb's case.

In Captain Phillips, the filmmakers make the protagonist the good guy, but in Kill the messenger, they leave a gray shade over the hero in question. Sure, he gets to drive a motorcycle like a Hollywood action hero once, but he's not the uber clean guy one can rely on. That in itself makes it one of the better films we have seen this year.

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