Friday, October 10, 2014

Movie with Abe: Kill the Messenger

Kill the Messenger
Directed by Michael Cuesta
Released October 10, 2014

There are many ways to tell a compelling story using journalism, and what’s just as great is that the way in which such a story is researched, printed, and dispelled can make for an equally engaging film. Though not nearly as well-known as Woodward and Bernstein, Gary Webb unraveled a story just as monumental, if not more so, which is brought to life in director Michael Cuesta’s new film “Kill the Messenger,” a powerful story of one man set on exposing the truth, no matter what anyone tried to throw at him.

Webb (Jeremy Renner) is introduced as a stable, popular reporter for the San Jose Mercury News with a supportive family and a pretty ideal life. He has a penchant for truly investing himself in his work, much to the chagrin of his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt), and occasionally causes headaches for his editor (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). All that is compounded and taken to a new level when one phone call and mistakenly leaked government document propel Gary to the forefront of an incredible and unbelievable web of corruption involving the CIA. Though everyone he meets tells him to back off, Webb is set on pushing further and making sure that the story comes out and the world learns the truth.

A trailer for this film made it look like an action thriller with plenty of violence and shady activities. It’s far from an accurate representation since, aside from an encounter with militant forces in Nicaragua and an unknown figure lurking by Webb’s car one night, the way in which Webb’s credibility is attacked is of a far less hands-on nature. Watching Gary press on and seeing him so overwhelmed with frustration for the way his perseverance is being picked apart are equally interesting, and make for a very involving drama.

Renner burst onto the scene in “The Hurt Locker” and has since appeared in showy roles in films like “The Town” and “American Hustle.” Here, he’s full of confidence and humanity, never questioning the fact that what he’s doing is the right and necessary thing to do. Winstead, DeWitt, Oliver Platt, Barry Pepper, Andy Garcia, and Tim Blake Nelson contribute to a strong ensemble that together represents those who like Webb but can’t ultimately get behind his approach to the situation. The film is full of well-placed humor, and its real-life basis helps bring it home on an effective and haunting note. Its title is purely metaphorical, and it’s a terrific and fitting description of Webb’s situation as portrayed in this solid film.


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