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Friday, 17 October 2014

Kill The Messenger

Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) died a very unhappy man in 2004.  He spent the last 7-8 years of his life chasing a story that was “too true to be told” as one of his sources put it.  A story that the government (read CIA) was aware (not complicit in as many words) about of the explosion of Crack Cocaine in  Los Angeles and how it was used to fund the Contra rebels of Nicaragua.

Conspiracy theories are as much part and parcel of everyday life these days as it was around 2 decades back (1996).  Somehow, the stories that we hear about investigative journalists seem to come in from the previous century.  Webb stumbled upon one such theory serendipitously when a drug dealer’s “girlfriend” calls him out of the blue to add “value” to a story that Webb is working on.

The hitherto unknown reporter of the San Jose Mercury News starts digging and his search leads him to a Nicaraguan Jail and eventually Washington DC.  The company of course gets wind of our man’s activities and over time takes the necessary steps to “diffuse” the threat to one of is top secret missions.

Kill The Messenger is based on Webb’s book The Dark Alliance – the header under which he started his series of articles for the SJMN.  Directed by Michael Cuesta (some of the episodes of Homeland) the narrative is distinctly different from most movies that involve a massive conspiracy theory such as this one.

Cuesta focuses significantly on the impact that the work has on Webb’s personal lives.  Usually, the better half is completely out of a story like this but Sue Webb (Rosemary DeWitt) has a significant portion of screen time.  Webb’s relationship with Sue and elder son Ian (Lucas Hedges) is well covered.

Which is probably the reason why the movie seems to lack intensity.  Maybe our (to be fair – read my) mind/s are conditioned to an edge of the seat thriller that focuses on the protagonist/s ala Shall We Tell The President.  Instead we get a well narrated Docu Drama of sorts that has all of 1-2 Gun Shots and that too in warning.

Jeremy Renner is exceptional in parts and very good overall.  The support cast includes the likes of Oliver Platt and Mary Elizabeth Winstead who have small but very important roles.  Both are very good.  Andy Garcia & Ray Liotta make small but crucial appearancs in the movie as well.  Definitely worth watching but don’t go in expecting a typical masala spy story.  7 on 10.

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