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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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3,849 ( 195)
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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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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Eric Webb
Parker Douglas ...
Christine Webb
Kai Schmoll ...
Sacramento Journalist
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Rich Kline (as Josh Close)
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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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Taglines:

How the CIA's crack-cocaine controversy destroyed journalist Gary Webb 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  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$2,450,846 (USA) (27 January 2015)
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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Cuesta, the film's director, who is an Emmy Award winner for the espionage television series Homeland (2011), kept Gary Webb's search for truth instinct in mind for Jeremy Renner's portrayal of Gary Webb. Cuesta said: "Gary Webb would dig and dig to find the truth. Having made a movie with Jeremy before [12 and Holding (2005)], I knew in turn that he would work to find the truth of who Gary was. Jeremy is very much an instinctual actor. When he digs into a scene, he can go subtle or explosive. He's dynamic and real. What more can a director ask for? He also has an inner life that the camera can pick up in the most quiet moment: Storms are brewing and wheels are turning, and frustration and guilt are thinly veiled, all conveyed with no words." Producer Naomi Despres added: "I think that Jeremy connected innately to Gary, not only as a bit of an outsider but also as someone whose authenticity is central to who they are as a man. It's important to consider that Gary didn't know people in positions of power like reporters at the major newspapers did. He didn't have those relationships in Washington, and yet here he was chasing the story down when others weren't, and doing his best work on matters of national security and international politics, an area that was outside his regular beat." See more »

Goofs

When Garry calls Coral for the first time, he alternates holding the telephone receiver with his left hand, right hand, or against his shoulder. There are multiple instances during the conversation where two hands are visible on the table, as he is taking notes, followed by quick cuts to him holding the phone with his hand with insufficient time to have raised it up from the table. 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 Kill the Messenger: The All-Star Cast (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Street Legal (The Face of the Crowd)
Written by Nathan Johnson
Performed by The Cinematic Underground
Courtesy of Choplogic Music
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User Reviews

 
An Explosive Exposé Important Enough To Suppress
17 November 2014 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

The longer I cogitate on Michael Cuesta's KILL THE MESSENGER, the more I realise just how unobtrusively compelling this film truly is.

Inspired by the life of Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) and his 'Dark Alliance' exposé on the explosion of crack cocaine in the United States (which inevitably ruined his career), the film draws attention to the power and reach of fourth and fifth estate journalism and to the subjective objectivism of its gatekeepers.

Having said all that, if you take the time to reach beyond this controversial surface story and embrace Sean Bobbitt's intimate framing and selective foci, you'll discover Gary; a doggedly passionate and humanly flawed individual whose good intention to report a story 'just too true to tell' results in an overwhelmingly biased and unfair challenge on his credibility and integrity with devastating consequences.

Renner's (THE HURT LOCK, THE BOURNE LEGACY) performance is captivating in its subtlety; allowing momentary characters including Norwin Meneses (Andy Garcia), Fred Weil (Michael Sheen) and Jerry Ceppos (Oliver Platt) to drive the story's factual elements in a similar manner experienced by Webb. The use of medium and close-up shots and oscillating lighting gives you a bird's eye view to Renner's struggles as the voraciously shocking professional and personal smear campaign takes its toll. Renner becomes more unashamedly haggard with dwindling moments of indignation on screen at each roadblock. It may also explain why Cuesta opted to gloss over the pivotal points of this sad story and tie it up in Webb's panegyric acceptance speech and closing title card.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this film and would recommend that you take some time out to see it. Sure it has its flaws –but so does Gary Webb and the story itself - but that's why it works. As Webb said on reflection 'The reason I'd enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn't been, as I'd assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job. The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn't written anything important enough to suppress'.

You can catch me at my handle and at The Hollywood News.


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