Sunday, October 12, 2014

Review: Kill the Messenger

Release date: October 9, 2014
Running time: 112 minutes
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosemarie DeWitt 
Who to see it with: A conspiracy theorist friend


Based on a true story, Kill the Messenger follows a Bay Area reporter named Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) who uncovers a possible government conspiracy to illicitly finance Nicaraguan contras. When Webb, after researching some very shady individuals, finally publishes his story, the consequences of it are swift and far reaching for the reporter and his family. The film bears the dreaded, based on a true story tag, which always makes you wonder how much of it actually happened and how much of it was fabricated for the silver screen. In the end, it's tough to tell, but at least the film paints an interesting picture while doing it.

Most of the movie is spent with Renner, who does a masterful job portraying the somewhat complicated Webb. Renner gives a believable performance that is powerful at times and goes through a variety of emotional states. Renner is pretty much the highlight of the film, although many stars make cameos and add some unique and quirky characters to the unbelievable story. Speaking of the story, the film is "based on a true story," which is better than inspired by but still begs the question of how much creative liberty was taken with the underlying material. Many of the scenes seem convenient and at the same time, far-fetched without much exploration into alternative explanations. The film weaves an interesting story that starts to unravel, or at least show some possible flaws, when you poke at some of the angles. And as is sometimes the case with films based on true stories, the ending feels both stretched and unfulfilling. Although Kill the Messenger involves an engaging journey with some very good acting, the overall film feels fantastical at times and leaves you with an unsatisfying ending.

Rent it.

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