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Kill The Messenger – Review


Release Date: 6th March 2015
Director: Michael Cuesta
Writer: Peter Landesman [Screenplay] - Gary Webb [Book "Dark Alliance'] - Nick Schou [Book 'Kill The Messenger']
Cast: Jeremy Renner - Robert Patrick - Robert Pralgo - Jena Sims



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Posted December 1, 2014 by

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Kill The Messenger Review:

There are two kind of movies : those with an heavy publicity around them, and those with no previous visibility : “Kill the Messenger” is one of them. I went to the theater with absolutely no idea of what I was going to watch, if not a story about a journalist who investigated, in the late 1990’s, the alleged role of the CIA in the Contras’ war in Nicaragua in the 1980’s and its implication in drug trafficking during the same time. Well, I admit it, I do enjoy topics such as conspiracy, states secrets, plots and foul plays… Oddly enough, it feels like there’s a link between the fact that a film has no publicity around it, and the fact that it is a piece of genuine quality. Well, I’m sure there are a few exceptions, but “Kill the Messenger” is clearly an underrated movie.

Michael Cuesta, the director, proved himself through several TV shows such as “Six Feet Under” and “Homeland”, but doesn’t seem that experienced in the “proper” movie making. Yet, his way of putting this story, written by Peter Landesman who wrote the biography of Gary Webb, the main character of our tale, in motion is accurate, neat, and the cast (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Barry Pepper, Andy Garcia, Oliver Platt, Ray Liotta) is perfectly directed around Jeremy Renner (“MI : Ghost Protocol”, “The Hurt Locker”, “The Town”), the incarnation of this uncanny reporter. Even the writing is perfect, as it respects the drama genre codification, but also manages to put here and there tiny bits of comedy, which is more than welcome in this shattering situation.

Gary Webb was this third zone reporter, for the “San Jose Mercury News” local paper, with no bigger expectations for his professional life than writing about that dog miraculously saved by its vet, or that horse that died because of a bad bowel movement. He loves his wife and kids, enjoys his plain dull life with barbecues and beers during the week-end, but that dull life comes to an end when he is assigned to cover the arrest and the trial of a drug lord living in San Jose : a classified report, stating that the government, with the CIA support, was involved in drug trafficking, the very same traffic all the politicians that came to power since the 1970’s swore they’d fight during their tenure. Given the shock of the news, Gary thought well to investigate the topic, interviewing dealers, lawyers, federal agents, up to the head of the operations in Nicaragua.

It goes without saying, that the heat of the story went back blowing in Gary’s head… and I will let my fellow readers watch the film to discover what eventually happened to Gary Webb.

The idea here is not to argue about whether the CIA and the government were involved in the drug crisis in the 1980’s, it is more of showing how the media were (and, in my opinion, are even more today) under a tremendous pressure whenever they are trying to do their job, in an unredacted kind of way. It is very difficult to believe that maybe, just maybe, the media is somehow forced to say, write, publish only what they are authorized to, in the name of the so-called “National Security”. These are the question that “Kill the Messenger” is asking, and I find Michael Cuesta really brave to dare asking them in today’s perspective. I stress the fact that it is only a matter of asking questions : when you do that, it is only to open a debate, to catch different points of views. And I hope people will eventually start asking themselves about what they see and hear every day in the news, instead of taking it as it comes.


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Theo Tessa
Freelance Contributor


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