A reporter becomes the target of a vicious smear campaign that drives him to the point of suicide after he exposes the CIA's role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine ... See full summary »
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A reporter becomes the target of a vicious smear campaign that drives him to the point of suicide after he exposes the CIA's role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine into California. Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb. Written by
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 »
To be exact, Kill the Messenger isn't mainly about the CIA conspiracy which was exposed in 1996. This is more of Gary Webb's journey of unraveling some secrets behind the story and facing the consequences of revealing too much classified information to the public. The film shifts from conspiracy thriller to familial drama to give a clear statement of what struggles do honest journalists usually get. The direction seems to have higher interests when it comes to the conspiracy thriller mode, but when it eases down, it doesn't have the same enthusiasm. Thankfully, the star of the film, Jeremy Renner, carries the whole thing, making the overall experience absolutely engrossing.
The film isn't really that straightforward when it comes to its historical side, though the first half does have a keen focus on picking up huge details from one source to another. The film triumphs when it only stays to that root, taking us to a process of how journalism works. But that point didn't get much of the flow, because again the whole message of this film is the danger of getting into this situation. The other half of the movie concerns Webb's protection with his family, while it is important to get to know about his personal life, it sort of feels like a stretched intrusion to what else interesting happening. The rest of the story, specifically the effects of the exposé to the public, remains to be a series of real life footage of mobs and interviews. The film comes to life once again when they face the actual consequences instead of verbalizing their paranoia.
It could have been clunky, but the film totally benefits having Jeremy Renner. Even at its weakest scenes, the actor tend to bring real depth and tension, joining the audience to what his role is going through. This performance alone can be an instant recommendation to its entirety. The direction, as said, seems to spare its energy more on the investigation and suspense, which could have been straightforward in reporting the facts and putting the melodrama to the sidelines. The craft is solid as well, there are some strong production and stunning shots to be found.
Kill the Messenger is more ambitious in its sentiments of valuing the truth and going against political corruption, but it doesn't satisfy enough to reporting its history, especially when the movie is really good at depicting it. It just eventually becomes a cautionary film for journalists about exposing a vulnerable truth, showing us the main character and his family possibly at risk after what he has done. It works when it finally acknowledges that the government is now their enemy and building suspense behind Webb's back, but when it focuses to the drama of his personal life, it doesn't seem to fit on the pieces, however whatever made it still thoroughly watchable, again, is the acting of Renner. This is the type of merit that steals much of the value of the film, even if it's flawed in storytelling, the appeal just keeps on going.
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