Monday, October 27, 2014

Kill the Messenger - 2 1/2 stars

Based on a true story, Jeremy Renner plays Gary Webb, a reporter for a small newspaper.  He accidentally discovers evidence of the CIA’s involvement in the crack epidemic.  Basically the CIA worked with crack dealers back in the 80s, and they used the profits to fund an illegal war in Nicaragua.  When Webb writes the story, his paper runs it, and then the trouble starts. 

It’s hard to talk about a movie like this without referencing All the President’s Men.  There are a lot of similarities – a reporter out of his league, his editor pushing him to get sources and make sure the story’s tight, intimidation from the government, and exposing national corruption.  For the first hour or so, that’s where it seemed like this movie was going, and I was really enjoying it. 

But late in the movie, there’s nowhere for the story to go.  The investigation is done and the story is published, and the CIA stops going after him.  There’s a good 20 minutes where nothing much happens.  The focus shifts to Webb and his family, but the movie doesn’t do much with that.  There are a couple of good scenes showing the tension his family is under, and there is a really good scene where Webb is confronted by his son for a past indiscretion.  But most of the time, I was bored.

Part of the problem is the story is anticlimactic.  I’m not sure what they could have done exactly to make the last half hour better.  I am glad they didn’t add anything like a car chase or shootout that didn’t happen in real life.  But at the same time, it makes for a less exciting movie.  

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