Monday, December 14, 2015

Movie review: Kill the Messenger

Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb who uncovered and reported on the CIA's alliance with Nicaraguan Contra rebels during the 1980's. Webb eventually published the series "Dark Alliance" which detailed the importing of cocaine to the U.S. by the CIA who then launched a smear campaign against him resulting in his eventual suicide.

Jeremy Renner (Gary Webb), Robert Patrick (Ron Quail), Mary Winstead (Anna Simons), Lucas Hedges (Ian Webb), Rosemarie DeWitt (Sue Webb), Paz Vega (Coral), Barry Pepper (Russell Dodson), Yul Vazquez (Blandon).

Kill the Messenger begins well by setting the current state of affairs between the U.S. and Nicaragua. As Webb realizes he may have a story on his hands the tension increases with the story growing larger and Webb confronting the U.S. Government. When the CIA launches a smear campaign against Webb the second half of the movie switches focus and much of the built up tension is lost in favor of drama. The story finally concludes with something of a whimper and a textual finish. Though the story was good, switching focus lost a lot of energy in the end.

Acting was good with Renner doing a nice job in a heavily dramatic role and delivering well. Patrick delivered his usual. Winstead was enjoyable with solid presentation. Hedges fit well with emotional depth and worked nicely with Renner. DeWitt was also enjoyable, as was the remainder of the solid and experienced cast.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were good with a solid realistic feel and appropriate fit for the setting and time period. Some historical video and pictures were a good addition and help with both telling of the story and generating an authentic feel. Action scenes were mild but realistic. Dialogue was nicely done with good detail and depth. Sound and soundtrack were mild but fitting.

Overall Kill the Messenger is a solid, true life crime thriller with good technical work and direction despite the mid-film focus shift. Those interested in Webb's story, or that of the whole CIA cocaine debacle should enjoy this one.

With some foul language and violence, this should be fine for teens and above.

Released: 2014
Reviewed: 12.7.15
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Thriller, Crime Thriller, Crime Drama, Biography, Conspiracy Films

copyright ©2015 Dave Riedel

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