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10/10
Superb acting,writing & three interwoven themes: government corruption, whistle blower retaliation, rare integrity
Kansas-513 October 2014
I drove 140 miles, round trip, in foreboding weather, to attend the nearest U.S. opening.

It was well worth it.

First some context.

I've freelanced for decades, including during a war, successfully exposed major governmental corruption, weathered concerted retaliation and have been regularly appalled at the weakness of corporate, bureaucratic and political weasels who abandoned ideals, professionalism and integrity, "going along to get along." I was aware of Webb's writing and vilification at the time they occurred, in the late '90s, but for over 50 years I had a front row seat for even pre-Nixonian "drug wars" through the "crack epidemic," genocidal American imperialism, and the treatment of many other reporters who dared challenge the status quo, who had the courage to painfully examine the quaint and naive notion of collective national decency.

Webb's story, so artfully recounted and performed, was unfortunately true. He was accused of distorting the actuality of Reagan-era hypocrisy, but his reporting was accurate. He never accused the CIA of intentionally destroying the social fabric of minority communities, but made it clear that Harlem and Watts and Chicago's South Side were victims of "collateral damage," the inevitable consequences of the abandonment of any pretense of morality ostensibly possessed by the Reagan administration.

Indeed, spurred by new information about the practice of questionable property seizures, Webb had once again picked at the scab covering the decade-old, gangrenous infestation of our government, later well described by Robert Parry in his October 2004 Salon piece, "How Kerry exposed the Contra-cocaine scandal." To get the story, Webb had exposed himself to blood curdling danger, both at his own home in the U.S. and on the scene, in Central America.

Perhaps the worst betrayal of public trust by this film is depicted in recapitulation of the collective response of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, after being pressured by the CIA and the State Department. The papers' responded with hyperactive involvement in the personal destruction of Webb's reporting, reputation and life. Previously. the same papers, pressured by Reagan administration officials, buried Senator John Kerry's investigation, and shared subsequent malfeasance in their facilitating the Bush/Cheney administration's illegal and genocidal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The NY Times and Post had some odious history themselves. Reporters Ray Bonner and Alma Guillermoprieto were reassigned to boring beats after their courageous exposure of the incredibly savage El Mozote Massacre in El Salvador.

There, the U.S. trained, funded and armed Atlacatl Battalion murdered almost a thousand peasants, largely neutral evangelical Protestants, and mostly women and children, on December 11, 1981. Stanley Miesler's El Mozote Case Study, published in the Columbia Journalism Review, exhaustively documented their fates.

This film captured all those similar disgraceful elements. It needs to be seen by a wider audience just as it would be wise to make "Dr. Strangelove" part of a core curriculum in the formal education of American adolescents.
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8/10
Kill The Messenger
Palidan4004 October 2014
"National security and crack cocaine in the same sentence. Does that not sound strange to you?" Kill The Messenger dives into an intense and important, often forgotten, segment of history. That being said, as the title implies, the film ultimately centralizes around reporter Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) and what happens to him when he comes across this shocking discovery. With strong performances by the cast and a clear focus by the director, the film comes out shaky in a few parts but overall provides a riveting and respectful look at this man's life.

Jeremy Renner is the star of this story, and he performs excellently. Renner fully commits into becoming Webb. Besides decently looking like the real Webb physically, he captures a wide range of emotions that the man would have faced - from being a cool reporter to a struggling and scared husband and father. Some characters do not impress as much in their performances, but Renner is able to carry the lead role well enough to support the film.

The cinematography and visuals fit the tone of the film very well. Stylized heavily with its colors and the other external footage it uses, the film gives off an aged and exciting feel, similar to other movies from past decades. What ties it all together though is its clear focus. Director Michael Cuesta has a clear goal of what he wants the film to be about - Gary Webb. While not all the scenes succeed in contributing to that, the majority of it is cohesive enough to let audiences understand the characters without losing the intensity and action of the larger picture - the cocaine smuggling.

With its commendable technical aspects and the important subject it deals with, Kill The Messenger is definitely a film worth seeing. Jeremy Renner and the director together bring a lot to the film, and while it's not entirely superb, it gives a good two hours of entertainment that means something, especially today. RATING: [8/10]
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10/10
Gripping and Important
clg23813 October 2014
"Kill the Messenger" is both a very gripping film and an important film. Even though I know what our government was up to in those days (as if things have changed), I could hardly breathe, anticipating what would come next in the movie. My only concern about the film is the speculation that those who are ignorant of what occurred in those days would grasp that the money from drug sales went to buy weapons (it was almost glossed over). The acting in this film is superb, with one exception (the person who played Coral Baca--way overdone and not convincing). Knowing that the film is based on true events gives it amazing heft. I think it's an unforgettable portrayal of how our government can go astray--it's history but also a warning for those of us who have been demoralized by the current state of politics and who tend to trust certain names in the media. The film should be required viewing by every member of Congress, by every high school student, by those who call themselves journalists.
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10/10
This Journalist Happy To See This Get Into The Light
Theterritorial12 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Partial spoiler alert.

See this film. As an investigative reporter that worked on a connected aspect of this entire saga (we exposed one of the CIA drug/arms pilots and how he was indicted in San Diego, only to get off scott-free living in New Zealand), I saw this unfold in real time when Gary Webb's own editor Jerry Ceppos (spoiler here) reversed course and betrayed him at the San Jose Mercury News.

This film will anger and depress even the most casual viewer. However, for an investigative reporter who has never gotten over what happened to Webb, the only positive takeaway - besides the fact that Webb was right and he could have gone further - is that the world can now see Ceppos for what he is.

The worm went into academia and is out there still lecturing on "journalistic ethics" - which, as the term applies to him, is the ultimate oxymoron.

Considering how convoluted the entire saga was and remains to this day - this film is done in an extraordinary fashion. Renner is Oscar worthy here. The cast is outstanding.
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8/10
Politically explosive film about President Reagan's support of Nicaraguan Contras with drug money
graupepillard24 October 2014
I try to see every one of Jeremy Renner's films after his great performance in Kathryn Bigelow's THE HURT LOCKER where he played a Sergeant in Iraq dismantling IED's (improvised explosive devices) in the dusty, tension filled streets of Baghdad. I will never forget a scene in the shower, water pouring over his bloodied body slowly slumping down to the ground, tears mixing in with the wet spray that was bathing his body; an attempt to cleanse his psyche of the horrors of warfare. In KILL THE MESSENGER directed by Michael Cuesta, based on a true story, Renner is in another descent - one that is politically driven - in an intense performance as Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Webb, an investigative journalist for the San Jose Mercury News writing a series entitled "Dark Alliance" on the CIA's drug dealing connection to the "Contras" in the war in Nicaragua in the 1980's. "…Webb investigated Nicaraguans linked to the CIA-backed Contras who had smuggled cocaine into the U.S. Their smuggled cocaine was distributed as crack cocaine in Los Angeles, with the profits funneled back to the Contras. Webb also alleged that this influx of Nicaraguan-supplied cocaine sparked, and significantly fueled, the widespread crack cocaine epidemic that swept through many U.S. cities during the 1980s. According to Webb, the CIA was aware of the cocaine transactions and the large shipments of drugs into the U.S. by Contra personnel. Webb charged that the Reagan administration shielded inner-city drug dealers from prosecution in order to raise money for the Contras, especially after Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which prohibited direct Contra funding…" (Wikipedia)

In this film we see the backlash to Webb's reporting including correspondents from the mighty NY Times, The LA Times and The Washington Post who had glazed over the story in their own papers; the tragic manipulation of facts in order to destroy the veracity of Webb's coverage of events. We view the absence of San Jose Mercury News' editorial support at critical moments in Webb's heroic scrutiny of the research; the Reagan Administration's financing of a war through drug trafficking pitting "truth vs. power"; the perversion of principle to the needs of "security" on the backs of the South Central Los Angeles community. One does not need to "kill the messenger" with bullets - one can do so through the media attacking the person not the story under the potent pressure of the government.

KILL THE MESSENGER attempts to portray Gary Webb in his domestic, familial role as a loving though humanly "flawed" father of 3 children, with a supportive loving wife (the beautiful actor Rosemarie De Witt) all in danger and threatened by Webb's probing into the murkiness of political sludge - the undisclosed secrets of the inner workings of government aired out inviting dirty revenge. This is also a David vs. Goliath tale - a lone person who in his "innocence" believes in the unveiling of the machinations of authority through the pen and the judiciousness of our legal system.

The portrait of Gary Webb is a tenacious and vivid study of idealism in the fight for the unearthing of corruption. I left the theater saddened and disheartened, but at the same time hopeful for those rare individuals who are fearless enough to stand up for what they believe when their support system has been paralyzed. Hard to do! They merit my deepest respect and admiration.
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8/10
Really liked the whole thing. A great drama.
bbickley13-921-5866414 October 2014
It was a movie that made me think, as it involved a different angle to a subject that I knew something about.

The trailer suggest that the movie is about the true story of Gary Webb's article that suggest the CIA were evolved with drug dealing as a way to fund a war in the 1980's, but as the title of the movie described the people read the article and ran with their own conspiracies which lead to a CIA cover up that lead to Webb's downward spiral.

It is an Intriguing tell of a journalist trying to keep his integrity while forces were trying to ruin it to keep their own.

Jeremy Renner drove his acting vehicle well, not well enough in my opinion to win an Oscar or anything, but it proves that he can headline anything.

Definitely a good movie to sit through.
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Journalism history forcefully told: This really happened.
jdesando9 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Winston Churchill

Gary Webb suffered greatly for writing about the CIA's enabling drug selling on US streets to fund the Nicaraguan contras in the '90's. As a sincere but flawed muckraker, he pursued the truth writing for the San Jose Mercury News and, naturally, incurred the wrath of the feds.

While nothing is surprising given the fame of the incident, director Michael Cuesta approaches this "inspired-by" biopic also as a thriller with dramatic underpinnings. The film allows us to be caught up in the drama of a reporter catching a big one, only to have the fish the size of Moby Dick. As Webb tries to hold on to his family, despite warnings they are vulnerable, we go deeper with him into the frustrations of cowardly colleagues and questionable contacts, who stand ready to compromise the integrity of his series called Dark Alliance.

The specter of All the President's Men haunts most stories about idealistic journalists, and it is no different here. Webb is a dedicated, overzealous journalist who seeks the truth while fulfilling his natural-born inclination to cause trouble. As such, his publisher, Jerry Ceppos (Oliver Platt), must deal with the CIA's and prominent news organizations' allegations about Webb's uneven reporting, which jeopardizes the reputation of his newspaper because of his sometimes questionable conclusions from dicey sources and the incendiary nature of the allegations, including how much money actually made it to the contras or how large the drug operations were.

After all Webb's investigations, nothing is more explosive than his allegations that this cocaine trafficking was responsible for the crack crisis in large cities like Los Angeles. Major newspapers like The New York Times went after Webb and his imperfect reporting. His editor said, "We couldn't support some of the statements that had been made."

Eventually Webb committed suicide even though the CIA had admitted involvement or at least knowledge of the trafficking. The pursuit of truth for reporters is not easy, nor has the well-known adage of killing the messenger abated in the least. This film is as exciting as any thriller, and just as depressing.
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9/10
Well done keeps the can of worms open
phd_travel18 November 2014
This is a true story about a San Jose Mercury News journalist who wrote articles about the CIA and cocaine being brought into California in order to fund contras in Nicaragua. Good to see the journalist's difficulties in exposing big issues. In the light of all the whistle blowing of recent days it's interesting to see the earlier cases that didn't have the media explosion of today.

It's told in a matter of fact way. There is a familiar cast who don't have too big personalities so they are believable. Jeremy Renner suits the role well your typical everyman against the establishment. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is good too - not to glamorous but watchable.

After watching this movie it makes one want to read up further into all sides of the story like did the Washington Post attack the journalist rather than further investigate the issue and how much of the CIA's involvement is fact vs fiction.
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8/10
An Explosive Exposé Important Enough To Suppress
theSachaHall17 November 2014
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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8/10
Risking for the Truth
billygoat107115 October 2014
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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6/10
National Security and Crack Cocaine
ferguson-612 October 2014
Greetings again from the darkness. This is one of those true stories that probably works better as a drama than as a documentary. Jeremy Renner brings passion and believability to his role as infamous journalist Gary Webb. This allows us to gain insight into Mr. Webb as a father, husband and man, rather than only as a fiery investigative reporter.

You likely recall Webb's published story from 1996, when his research uncovered the likelihood that cocaine imported into the US was being sold as crack cocaine and the profits were going towards funding arms for the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. The kicker being that the CIA was well aware of these activities.

The film presents Webb as an idealist, too naive to comprehend that the story would have ramifications to his employer, his family and his self. The use of actual news footage adds a dose of reality, as does the mention of Ronald Reagan, Oliver North, John Kerry ... and even the role Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky played in outshining the ultimate acknowledgment of Webb's work.

The underlying message here ... beyond the governmental cover-up ... is the lack of a true free press. Of course, this issue remains front and center today, but in this particular instance, it's surprising to see the influence and pressure applied by outside forces. It's further proof that any hope for checks and balances from our news outlets was snuffed out many years ago.

The movie is based on two books: Gary Webb's own "Dark Alliance" and Nick Shou's "Kill the Messenger". The frustration as a viewer is derived from the fragmented presentation brought on by steady stream of new characters who mostly only appear in one or maybe two scenes. The list of known actors is impressive: Rosemary DeWitt, Oliver Platt, Robert Patrick, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Sheen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Paz Vega, Barry Pepper, Michael Kenneth Williams, Andy Garcia, Gil Bellows, Lucas Hedges, Richard Schiff, and Ray Liotta. That should help explain what I mean by fragmented.

The story is an important one and the film is worth seeing. It's impossible to not think of All the President's Men while watching. The Grandaddy of crusading journalism continues to produce heirs ... even those that are a black eye for the newspaper industry and our government.
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5/10
Great subject, average movie
dmann13516 February 2015
Even though I'd never heard of Gary Webb, I wanted to see the movie because the story sounded interesting and I enjoy movies based on true events. I'm wiser for having watched it, but to call it a movie might be a stretch. It's almost like the director didn't want to use creative license, so he just left stuff out. There's a focus on Webb the family man, but hardly enough to endear the viewer to him or his family. There's a focus on his investigative reporting, but its not like the movie followed the events step-by-step, which would have been great. Then, to top it all off, they plug Ray Liotta and Andy Garcia in as pivotal figures to Webb's investigation, but they only get like 5 minutes of screen time. You expect to see them again at some point but never do. Again, the decision to make a film on this subject was great, the vision for the movie, however, doesn't do the subject matter justice. Great subject, average movie.
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8/10
Renner may not seem like much of an actor in 'THE AVENGERS' but in the right role he's fantastic!
Hellmant27 October 2014
'KILL THE MESSENGER': Four Stars (Out of Five)

Dramatic thriller film telling the true story of journalist Gary Webb. It centers on Webb's efforts to expose the CIA's former involvement in importing cocaine into California, in order to raise funding for Nicaraguan Contra rebels. It was directed by Michael Cuesta and written by Peter Landesman. The script is based on the book, of the same name, by Nick Schou and the novel 'Dark Allaince' by Webb himself. Jeremy Renner stars as Webb in the movie and also served as a producer. The film costars Rosemarie DeWitt, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt, Lucas Hedges, Barry Pepper, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Sheen, Paz Vega, Ray Liotta, Andy Garcia and Michael K. Williams. It's a very fascinating and informative movie.

The film is set in the mid-1990s when Gary Webb first learned of the CIA's past involvement in importing large amounts of cocaine into the US. They did this in order to sell it in ghettos, primarily in California, in order to raise money for supporting Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He goes public with the story, in a series of articles called 'Dark Alliance' (which he later based his book on). As retaliation the CIA aggressively smeared Webb's name and harassed him and his family.

The film is really interesting and involving, from the opening scene almost till the last. It's fast paced and brilliantly directed, by Cuesta. Renner may not seem like much of an actor in 'THE AVENGERS' but in the right role he's fantastic; this is one of those roles. I'm a big fan of DeWitt, her part here is small but she's still powerful in it, and the rest of the cast is good as well. This is also a story I previously knew very little about, so for me it was very informative too. I definitely recommend it.

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6/10
Good movie.....lousy history.
ryan-anderson27 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
To start off with, I really enjoyed Renner's performance......and I think it's a story worth telling. But what I noticed most of all is the almost endless inaccuracies, omissions, and misleading info while watching it. Setting the record straight:

-Blandon did NOT testify that the CIA came to him and asked them to run drugs. He testified that it was either Meneses or Enrique Bermudez (in the grand jury transcript called "Enrique Ramunez"), it's not clear which one (Blandon's English wasn't clear at times), is who asked him. In either case, neither person amounts to representing the CIA: Meneses definitely was not, and Bermudez wasn't either. And Blandon himself later specifically denied that Bermudez asked him to raise money through drug smuggling. Meneses said the same thing. The SJMN quoted Bermudez (via Blandon) as saying the "ends justify the means". But Blandon himself said he didn't take that as meaning they should traffic in drugs.

-The drug cartels had set up routes and were mass importing the drugs into California and Florida (and elsewhere) before the Contras were even in business. (Ergo the Contras sparking any crack epidemic (as Webb claimed) in LA or elsewhere is preposterous.)

-It's also worth pointing out the crack epidemic did not end when the Contras shut down in 1990. Ergo, the trade obviously didn't hinge on their (or their supporters) involvement.

-To illustrate the previous point: according to 'The War on Drugs: An International Encyclopedia', by the late 1980's: "an estimated 300 Colombian trafficking groups and 20,000 Colombians were involved in the cocaine trade in the United States. At least 5,000 of the Colombians who worked for the cartels lived in the Miami area and another 6,000 in the Los Angeles area." In other words: the cartels had about as much manpower in the United States alone than were in the entire Contra movement. (The Medellin cartel employed 750,000 people in Medellin.)

-Ross had other (non-Contra) suppliers besides Blandon and he was mixed up in drugs before he ever met him. Other LA dealers (like "Tootie" Reese) had established links with the South American cartels before Blandon met Ross.

-Webb gives the number (in 'Dark Alliance'; the book not the series) Blandon sold to Ross at around 5 tons. By DEA estimates, more cocaine went to Los Angeles in a *single* year (i.e. 1980; before Blandon was selling to Ross) than Ross sold over 8-10 years.

-Ross's suppliers were not Contras who went into dealing to support them.....they were dealers sympathetic to their cause who kept most of the money they made. That's an important distinction. Most provable estimates of what they gave the Contras was around 50-100 thousand dollars.

-Ross and Blandon had more money than the United States gave the Contras total (we are talking in the hundreds of millions). So if the Contras were running on drug money, why did the war grind to a halt once the USA cut off aid? Furthermore, why even bother with the Contra aspect of Iran-Contra (which got them maybe 2 million from the diversions of the arms sales to Iran) when all that coke money was supposedly out there?

-The movie also depicts (some would say "fabricates" is a more accurate term) a number instances of personal harassment (and contact) of Webb by the government and its agencies. Before he even writes the story, some "agents"/"a few guys from D.C." meet with him and try to warn him off and also make a implied threat against his family. Ray Liota plays a CIA agent who sneaks into Webb's hotel room in the middle of the night to tell him he is right. And finally, Webb fires a warning shot at a guy hanging around his car at night. Following that, some unidentified people start going through Webb's files while he is talking to the police. To my knowledge, even Webb didn't claim ANY of these events happened. I think the closest thing to this was the fact Webb once shot a would-be car thief who came at him. But this was in Kentucky and years before he came across the Dark Alliance story.

-Webb did not endorse the wild conspiracy theories put forth by a lot of people like Maxine Waters. But he didn't distance himself from these people either. So that didn't help his cause.

-At the end of the film, a number of misleading statements appear on the screen. For one, it mentions the the Director of the CIA's appearance in a "town hall" type meeting with the citizens of south central Los Angeles, and that the director left the CIA a month later. That leaves the impression Deutch left the CIA because of the Dark Alliance series. Deutch was actually forced out because the Clinton administration was upset with his testimony to Congress on Iraq. A statement is also made that the CIA released a report that acknowledged the fact they "...associated with members of the Contra movement who engaged in drug trafficking." True. But just not the ones Webb wrote about. The mentioned report specifically denies that the agency ever had any contact with Ross, Blandon, or Meneses. Furthermore, that report (and the unmentioned DOJ report), far from being a vindication for the Dark Alliance series, blew a great many holes in the story. And finally, Webb's two shot suicide is mentioned. The movie states it was "ruled" a suicide. But there is little doubt. Webb had made arrangements for his cremation (as well as other things), and even his own family does not doubt it was a suicide based on his actions before hand. (Nick Schou covers this in 'Kill The Messenger'. In a way, it was kind of good this aspect of Webb's life was omitted from the film because it made for some depressing reading.)

So a good movie.....but pretty flimsy history.
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10/10
Excellent Acting and Indeed Real
picardthesecond28 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
First off, I highly recommend Kansas-5's review of this film, on this site. It gives plenty of important concise background information on the true story of this film. There is however far more to it, and I highly recommend those that watch this to look into the events described in the film; Do your own research and see how far the rabbit hole goes.

That being said, this is my first ever review of a film here on IMDb, so it may be a bit rough. I felt compelled enough to write something about it, somewhere after viewing it for the first time. I had almost, to my utter shame, had forgotten to view this film until today after looking forward to it.

Not many films today are interested in telling the truth when it comes to the depths of U.S. government corruption.

For the film itself:

  • Very well acted; Jeremy Renner did an absolute service by portraying Gary Webb as well as the actors portraying his family or co-workers. He should get an award, but probably won't.


  • Well paced and more than watchable for yourself, friends, or family; there are certainly some tense moments, and the ending act will certainly hits some emotional chords


  • While the movie doesn't totally scratch the surface of Gary Webb's research, it does a pretty good job of it (as I said earlier, please do read into it after watching this film)


  • The DVD/Bluray release also contain some great interviews from the actors whom also revere Gary Webb; The ending of the film is made in such a way for you, the viewer to be rightly suspicious of the government with an eagerness to know much more


In Closing/Other Thoughts:

Kill The Messenger, to me was certainly one of the important films to have been released in 2014. It is a microcosm in understanding why not only the government is corrupt today, but why mainstream media has become laughably inept. There is little interest in telling the truth when your career could be on the line or your life. Gary Webb risked his career and dream to do what journalists are supposed to do. Many like him have also suffered, but without them we wouldn't have had the meteoric rise of Independent Media platforms.

The failure that is the War on Drugs combined with the CIA/Contra revelations are only the tip of the scale when it comes to the crimes the U.S. government and its agencies get away with decade after decade.

From spying on the American public, falsifying information for Illegal Wars abroad, Assassinations, the so called "War on Drugs" that has turned the U.S. into a Prison Industry, to the CIA's and U.S. government's long and colored history of overthrowing Democratic countries spanning both Democratic and Republican Presidencies.

At the time Gary Webb had made it clear that there were unintentional consequences of what the CIA did. Whether or not that's the case, everything the U.S. leaves behind in its destructive wake against its own people and other people everywhere else is highly Intentional. Someone who pulls a trigger or lies or colludes is doing so intentionally.

In the film there is real footage of an interviewed figure at the time that claimed "there are no conspiracies in America" in their response to the breaking CIA/Contra story, which is highly untrue and pure fantasy, considering how much has been documented over decades now. And indeed, and likely to their embarrassment, in 1998 it was finally revealed to indeed have been a conspiracy with the CIA's involvement.

But then again, not acknowledging government crimes would be as if Julius Caesar simply committed suicide and was merely found with multiple self-inflicted stab wounds.
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9/10
Hope more people get to see this film than Gary Webb's original article.
makelvin10 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Jeremy Renner did a great job playing the Gary Webb character. It is sad to see that our own government can do such horrible thing to its own people. It does not seem like to this date that anyone have been held accountable to such action even after the truth have been revealed.

That fact that the government can so easily cover up any articles that it does not like is troubling. It makes it hard to distinguish the U.S. journalism as oppose to the Putin's controlled news media or the Chinese government news reports.

The final thing I find troubling is how on earth can someone commit a suicide by shooting themselves in the head "twice"? That alone seems a bit suspicious.
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5/10
Asks a useful question on how much you would sacrifice for principles, not overly entertaining
briandecarrun31 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Real life story of the CIA Contra cover-up and the pressure that was put on an honest journalist to discredit a story that initially was taken by all as true and who was since vindicated but never worked again in the media, despite this vindication.

I am not sure with the news media owned by moguls with large political donations, if it would be any different today and if anyone would be as brave in taking such a stand as while many of us might think we would, ultimately would you give everything you have away just for principles.

That as such is the moral question to ask in this film. Was it entertaining, not really and could have done with more zip, hence the rating.

Good on the moral question, low on entertainment value which is often why we watch films,to unwind and enjoy.
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5/10
Interesting topic, but feels a bit superficial in its treatment
thomas-watts22 July 2015
A film which spotlights a difficult and important topic, feeling almost like some sort of controlled "mea culpa" process by the American state in regard to the history of its foreign politics; by "controlled", I mean that it derives partly its responsibility on the CIA, often regarded as a State within the State. The movie takes a look into the CIA operations and political intrigues in South America : their favorite laboratory - which still is, as a matter of fact - in politics and economic agendas (overthrow any regime trying to nationalize a sector in which American firms (of which politics are shareholders) are making substantial profit, any regime promoting socialism, communism, by financing or arming the opposition), countries often left with a political and social void, vulnerable therefore to aggressive capitalist maneuvers of speculation, acting on vital resources (very reactive on the market). In the end, the movie will not satisfy people who seek the bigger picture, for them I can only strongly recommend the reading of the excellent study/essay by French journalist and academic, Laurent Guyénot, "JFK-9/11: 50 Years of Deep State", which is brilliant at connecting dots in the long history of American foreign policy.
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9/10
Hollywood quality film that somehow died and was forgotten about like the story it tells
misterphilipj17 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Shame on whoever is at fault for this movie not getting a major release. This is a story that needs to be told and available to everyone... but it sadly died and was forgotten about just like the story it told.

Focus features seems to never let me down, and they came through once again. Acting was superb, storyline was fluid, just the right amount of action and suspense to get a non-fictional story a fictional feel. You really get into what's going on from the main character's point of view and looking at what he did, it makes me proud and I wouldn't have done a thing differently myself.

If you're on the fence about seen this one go for it, you won't have any regrets.
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8/10
Renner is solid as a one man Woodward/Bernstein intrepid exposer of the truth
george.schmidt12 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
KILL THE MESSENGER (2014) *** Jeremy Renner, Rosemarie De Witt, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt, Paz Vega, Barry Pepper, Tim Blake Nelson, Richard Schiff, Gil Bellows, Robert Patrick, Lucas Hedges, Ray Liotta. Renner gives a tremendous performance as San Jose Mercury journalist Gary Webb who finds the lead to a breakthrough story in a conspiracy between the CIA and the CONTRAS in Nicaragua spearheading the crack epidemic in Los Angeles with many machinations uncovered as a can of worms. While a kissing cousin of sorts to ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN the conceit of a seemingly naive investigative reporter not being aware of consequences and other sordid goings on makes one wonder how he got the story published at all. The screenplay by Peter Landesman, based on Webb's book "Dark Alliance" and Nick Shou's titular book manages to echo the '70s gold standard for newspaper men onto the truth, justice and the American way bent even if its one-man Woodward & Bernstein discovers he's in over his head before it's too late. Stable and steady direction by Michael Cuesta anchors the film's reality in a surreal unraveling nightmare come true.
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6/10
Great until the last second...
susanrusciano196012 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, this is an excellent film with fine performances, particularly Mr. Renner's. It's also an important film because it's committed to telling the truth; however, this is also where it falls down literally in the last few seconds, right before the credits roll.

I saw this a little before its release at a film series where we had an interview/Q&A with the director afterwards. He did exhaustive research in creating this film, and it was only from a question that an audience member asked that I realized that I had been misled by the film. Now, this film is about the truth, and one of the ways that the journalist's original story is undermined in the film is the way that the story was packaged, particularly the sensationalistic image that accompanied the story--the CIA logo on a crack-pipe. It overstates and sensationalizes the story's point. Then director Michael Cuesta turns around and does the same thing at the end of his movie.

The story that Michael Cuesta tells is tragic--the journalist is killed not literally by the CIA or angry drug lords, but professionally by his own colleagues. The loss of his career exacerbates his depression, and eventually he is found dead "with two gunshots to the head." Then the last line states that it was ruled by the police as a suicide.

Now, everyone in the theater had the same reaction--"TWO gunshots to the head? So, he was killed and it was covered up, I guess." It wasn't until someone asked what seemed like an obvious question and inquired about the two gunshots and the ruling of suicide that Mr. Cuesta explained that there had never been any doubt that the shots were self-inflicted (one slight miss, one fatal), and that the journalist had left notes, etc.

Without the explanation, including the detail about the two gunshots is entirely disingenuous. Sort of like a CIA logo on a crack-pipe--deliberately misleading and manipulative behavior in a film about the truth.
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8/10
A masterpiece filled with controversies
sivanandrao5 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I wasn't too inclined to watch this movie and was not impressed with plot profile. Also I'm not a great fan of Jeremy Renner.

Finally I forced myself to watch this movie and I got so engrossed into it. I wonder how the movie was even allowed to release. It deals with Government corruption and drug trafficking.

Jeremy Renner is the heart of the movie. Enough physical change backed by strong acting he has steered this movie forward. Even though the supporting cast lacked a punch, Jeremy made up for all the minus. He has handled every part of his character (Be it the journalist, father or husband) with such intense acting. The screenplay is tight and sets the pace for the movie. Kudos to Michael Cuesta for making a fine movie and bringing out the best in Jeremy Renners since The Hurt Locker.
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8/10
The Truth The CIA & New YorkTimes Couldn't Handle
AudioFileZ26 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"Kill The Messenger" is about one of the "known" darkest doings of our government's darkest agency that has, largely, been swept under the rug. Most of us simply don't know the story even as there's a permanently seared image of Oliver North in full uniform holding his hand up being sworn to tell the truth. Careers ended in the morass that ensued, yet today it is more remembered by our commander-in-chief, supposedly, being blissfully in the dark as to even the smallest detail. Well, there ain't nothing blissful in the reality of the Nicaraguan Contra Affair. It's truly incalculable as to even a rough estimation of deaths this unthinkable breach of trust caused. Though the bulk of facts regarding this monumental government debacle will never be known Kill The Messenger sheds light on the man who broke the story and was systematically ruined for doing so.

Kill The Messenger chronicles a period where a small time reporter, Gary Webb, writing for a middle-market third-tier San Jose Mercury News paper broke the story of the decade regarding the C.I.A.'s trading guns for drugs in order to arm the Nicaraguan Contra freedom fighters (criminal thugs like the drug dealers in all likelihood). The movie based on Nick Schou's book of the same name (as well as Webb's own Dark Alliance) is expertly directed by Michael Cuesta. It has a dangerous palpable urgency from start to finish realistically mirroring the can of worms Webb's article unleashed. Jeremy Renner gives a stellar performance bringing Webb's story to the screen, undoubtedly Renner's best to date. The poignancy hits like a jackhammer in the scene where Webb gives his "anti-acceptance" speech for journalist of the year.

Those organizations and individuals who sought to detract Webb at the time, largely concede today he had the story right just as he originally broke it. That, and this brilliant sympathetic movie are testaments to Webb's sincere idealism for which he, and his family, paid dearly. This is the story about a man seeking the truth against a behemoth that hit back. Highly recommended.
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GREAT! Timely, accurate and gripping.
caiorearte19 December 2014
I must say this is coming from someone who studied the case for many days and nights.

Kill the Messenger is based on a book I didn't read. I read "Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion".

I think that Dark Alliance needs to be filmed, too. Although the movie draws from Dark Alliance too, it didn't dedicate a lot of time to explaining the geopolitical intricacies into which Gary got in his book. In fact, it doesn't cover the writing of the book Dark Alliance very much. It gets very much into the writing of the newspaper series and its aftermath.

That said, it's a hell of a story and it's a very well constructed movie.

Jeremy Renner must have put his heart into it. I hope he doesn't forget the story and comes back to it later. Plus, I'm very eager to buy the DVD with extras, commentary and, especially, a Director's Cut. Something like Oliver's Stone Director's Cut of JFK - a different movie, targeted at a different audience, longer and more detailed on the whole.

I liked the movie. Unfortunately, this didn't get the publicity treatment it deserved. Hopefully, it will not be forgotten and create some follow-up.
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2/10
I don't understand it.
notharry21 January 2017
Interesting story of the vile corruption in America.

Poorly researched.

Poorly put together.

Total failure in showing how and why Mr Webb supposedly killed himself with two bullets.

Or was murdered.

Mr Renner played very monotonously. Inhuman.

Watchable.

Disappointing.

I don't know if there was a casting issue for Webb's wife. I'd've probably killed myself if I'd a scraggy wife like that. Not an appealing choice. But in real life he had several children with her, so probably was not her.

Why on earth did he pop off to stay in that hotel? And if your bike's stolen why do you add to your woes by then vandalising your own car? There's no sense in it. We need an investigative reporter to decypher this movie it seems.

A remake is necessary to show the exact events of the true story. Ie not US corruption, but Mr Webb's death.
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