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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
3,031 ( 887)
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:

Can you keep a national secret? 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
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The second movie trailer was first released on 8th September 2014. See more »

Goofs

In the beginning of the film, it is dated as 1996. Later, when Gary is washing his motorcycle in the parking lot of the apartment complex, the tags on his bike show Oct '95. 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 ...
[...]
See more »

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

Escape From Babylon
Written by Paris (as Oscar Jackson)
Performed by Paris
Courtesy of Guerrilla Funk Recordings and Filmworks, LLC
By arrangement with Shelly Bay Music
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User Reviews

 
An Explosive Exposé Important Enough To Suppress
17 November 2014 | by theSachaHallSee 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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