Finding time to write reviews has been a major challenge of late, but expect a flurry of reviews between now and the end of the year.
I watched Kill the Messenger a week ago. It tells the incredibly vital and horrific true story of Gary Webb, an investigative journalist in San Jose, California who uncovers the story of the CIA selling cocaine in the poorest parts of Los Angeles to finance the sending of weapons to the Contras during their war in Nicaragua in the 1980’s. Webb becomes an instant celebrity until the CIA gets their ‘controversializing’ machine in gear to discredit Webb and make him look like a lunatic. Like many who try to challenge the CIA, Webb ends up committing suicide by putting two bullets into his head (quite the trick).
Kill the Messenger was directed by Michael Cuesta, a television director who needs more experience in feature films to tell this kind of story in a compelling way. In other words, it felt like a TV movie instead of what it could have been in more experienced hands. The writer, Peter Landesman, is also relatively inexperienced, which may not have helped. In surer hands, this story could have been far more intense as well as more scathing in its exposure and its relevance for today. On the positive side, Cuesta got a great nuanced performance out of Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb, and the rest of the acting was solid enough.
The CIA is one of the greatest evils the world has ever known and we can’t get enough films that expose its heinous crimes against humanity. Because of that, I am giving Kill the Messenger, an otherwise average film, ***+. My mug is up.