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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 »

Director:

Michael Cuesta

Writers:

Peter Landesman, Gary Webb (book) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
2,396 ( 745)
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Renner ... Gary Webb
Robert Patrick ... Ronald J. Quail
Jena Sims ... Quail's Girlfriend
Robert Pralgo ... L.A. Sheriff
Hajji Golightly Hajji Golightly ... DEA Agent
Ted Huckabee ... Bob
Mary Elizabeth Winstead ... Anna Simons
Lucas Hedges ... Ian Webb
Rosemarie DeWitt ... Sue Webb
Matt Lintz ... Eric Webb
Parker Douglas Parker Douglas ... Christine Webb
Kai Schmoll Kai Schmoll ... Sacramento Journalist
Joshua Close ... Rich Kline (as Josh Close)
Paz Vega ... Coral Baca
Aaron Farb ... 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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Site | Production Notes | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 October 2014 (Hungary) See more »

Also Known As:

Secret d'état See more »

Filming Locations:

Atlanta, Georgia, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$941,809, 10 October 2014, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,450,846, 27 January 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat

Color:

Color | Color (archive footage)| Black and White (archive footage)

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

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 Filming in Georgia (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

 
Risking for the Truth
15 October 2014 | by billygoat1071See all my reviews

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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