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Kill the Messenger (2014)

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Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb. The film takes place in the mid-1990s, when Webb uncovered the CIA's past role in importing huge amounts of cocaine into the U.S. that was ... See full summary »

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, (book) | 1 more credit »
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3,209 ( 242)
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ronald J. Quail
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Quail's Girlfriend
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L.A. Sheriff
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DEA Agent
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Bob
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Ian Webb
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Eric Webb
Parker Douglas ...
Christine Webb
Kai Schmoll ...
Sacramento Journalist
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Rich Kline (as Josh Close)
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Coral Baca
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Rafael Cornejo
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Storyline

Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb. The film takes place in the mid-1990s, when Webb uncovered the CIA's past role in importing huge amounts of cocaine into the U.S. that was aggressively sold in ghettos across the country to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras' rebel army. Despite enormous pressure not to, Webb chose to pursue the story and went public with his evidence, publishing the series "Dark Alliance". As a result he experienced a vicious smear campaign fueled by the CIA. At that point Webb found himself defending his integrity, his family, and his life. Written by Milena Joy Morris

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Can you keep a national secret See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and drug content | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

9 October 2014 (Hungary)  »

Also Known As:

Secret d'état  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$941,809 (USA) (10 October 2014)

Gross:

$2,445,646 (USA) (5 December 2014)
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Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Incarnated on-screen by Jeremy Renner, who was also a producer of the movie, Gary Webb was a respected, hard-charging investigative journalist who longed to land a career-making story. Kill the Messenger (2014) tracks Webb as he uncovers the "Dark Alliance" between drug dealers, a rebel army, and their Central Intelligence Agency handlers - and also tracks Webb himself, a flawed and vulnerable man and a tireless reporter who fiercely believed that his job was to shine a spotlight on even the darkest corners of the world so that the public good was served, no matter how it impacted him. See more »

Goofs

Jerry Ceppos announces that Gary has been named the National Press Association's Journalist of the Year. There is no such thing as the National Press Association. He was named Journalist of the Year by the Bay Area Society of Professional Journalists. This is why he is speaking at the SPJ awards at the end of the film. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Richard Nixon: Public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.
Gerald Ford: For nearly a year, I have been devoting increasing attention to a problem which strikes at the very heart of our national well-being: Drug abuse.
Jimmy Carter: I did not condone any drug abuse, and we'll do everything possible to reduce this serious threat to our society.
Ronald Reagan: Drugs are menacing our society. They're threatening our values and ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

Just before the closing credits, there is a short video showing the real Gary Webb at home with his children. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Crack in America (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Sea Diver
Written by Ian Hunter
Performed by Mott the Hoople
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
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User Reviews

 
Politically explosive film about President Reagan's support of Nicaraguan Contras with drug money
24 October 2014 | by (NYC and Keyport, NJ) – See all my reviews

I try to see every one of Jeremy Renner's films after his great performance in Kathryn Bigelow's THE HURT LOCKER where he played a Sergeant in Iraq dismantling IED's (improvised explosive devices) in the dusty, tension filled streets of Baghdad. I will never forget a scene in the shower, water pouring over his bloodied body slowly slumping down to the ground, tears mixing in with the wet spray that was bathing his body; an attempt to cleanse his psyche of the horrors of warfare. In KILL THE MESSENGER directed by Michael Cuesta, based on a true story, Renner is in another descent - one that is politically driven - in an intense performance as Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Webb, an investigative journalist for the San Jose Mercury News writing a series entitled "Dark Alliance" on the CIA's drug dealing connection to the "Contras" in the war in Nicaragua in the 1980's. "…Webb investigated Nicaraguans linked to the CIA-backed Contras who had smuggled cocaine into the U.S. Their smuggled cocaine was distributed as crack cocaine in Los Angeles, with the profits funneled back to the Contras. Webb also alleged that this influx of Nicaraguan-supplied cocaine sparked, and significantly fueled, the widespread crack cocaine epidemic that swept through many U.S. cities during the 1980s. According to Webb, the CIA was aware of the cocaine transactions and the large shipments of drugs into the U.S. by Contra personnel. Webb charged that the Reagan administration shielded inner-city drug dealers from prosecution in order to raise money for the Contras, especially after Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which prohibited direct Contra funding…" (Wikipedia)

In this film we see the backlash to Webb's reporting including correspondents from the mighty NY Times, The LA Times and The Washington Post who had glazed over the story in their own papers; the tragic manipulation of facts in order to destroy the veracity of Webb's coverage of events. We view the absence of San Jose Mercury News' editorial support at critical moments in Webb's heroic scrutiny of the research; the Reagan Administration's financing of a war through drug trafficking pitting "truth vs. power"; the perversion of principle to the needs of "security" on the backs of the South Central Los Angeles community. One does not need to "kill the messenger" with bullets - one can do so through the media attacking the person not the story under the potent pressure of the government.

KILL THE MESSENGER attempts to portray Gary Webb in his domestic, familial role as a loving though humanly "flawed" father of 3 children, with a supportive loving wife (the beautiful actor Rosemarie De Witt) all in danger and threatened by Webb's probing into the murkiness of political sludge - the undisclosed secrets of the inner workings of government aired out inviting dirty revenge. This is also a David vs. Goliath tale - a lone person who in his "innocence" believes in the unveiling of the machinations of authority through the pen and the judiciousness of our legal system.

The portrait of Gary Webb is a tenacious and vivid study of idealism in the fight for the unearthing of corruption. I left the theater saddened and disheartened, but at the same time hopeful for those rare individuals who are fearless enough to stand up for what they believe when their support system has been paralyzed. Hard to do! They merit my deepest respect and admiration.


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