A hot shot Washington DC lobbyist and his protégé go down hard as their schemes to peddle influence lead to corruption and murder.A hot shot Washington DC lobbyist and his protégé go down hard as their schemes to peddle influence lead to corruption and murder.A hot shot Washington DC lobbyist and his protégé go down hard as their schemes to peddle influence lead to corruption and murder.
As a dramatisation it works because we do not have to dwell on the complexity of the deals being set up, who is ripping off who, who is the biggest liar. The film's smart pace allows us to soak up the facts like ink on blotting paper and at our own pace.
Thankfully we can lose ourselves in the characters, all of whom are played to perfection by a very strong cast, and all of whom resonate to the people we see and hear about on TV, in the media, even in show business. These are the folk who have more money than sense, or, more accurately, more credit and no shame if they can get away with making huge profits immorally. Less appealing are the players in real life who really are being torn apart through their desperation for attention, for expressions of interest, where any interest may be better than nothing. In this area we are left to feel morally lacking for not doing more to stop this kind of stuff. But the story simply keeps rolling along and we witness the demise of the main characters Abramoff (Spacey) and Scanlon (Pepper) just as it happened in real life.
The opening of the movie sets the scene well into the plot where much of the twisting and double crossing has already begun to unravel. Then we are witness to the events as they unfold through the deals, the double crosses, and the nasty side of greed (is there a nice side?). As the credits roll we also see a couple of the real life events depicted in the movie played back to us, to allow us to judge authenticity. I wonder if this was the only mistake the film makes. I felt the film spoke for itself.
As distressing and disturbing as the film's subject should be it is played out in such a way as we are information and knowledge gathering much like a media warning about "this is what lobbying really is". It is also a shrewd warning as to how shameless and immoral some people are when they are saying nice things to you, as if we needed a warning! I found it worthwhile to research the subject of lobbying a little more after I had seen this film and found myself disbelieving some of the things I have found out. This alone convinced me the film does not pull any punches.
Watch it just to wise up. Fortunately it is acted so powerfully and so sharply you will not want to look away.
- Oct 16, 2011