Kill The Messenger bears Nick Schou’s book title, from which it draws inspiration, but is also based on Gary Webb’s book Dark Alliance. The film was directed by Homeland & Elementary executive producer Michael Cuesta and stars Jeremy Renner, Rosemariie dewitt, Robert Patrick & Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Premise: Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb, Kill The Messenger follows Webb, a reporter, becomes the target of a vicious smear campaign after he exposes the CIA’s role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine into California.
Review: If you haven’t read up on the story or don’t know the name Gary Webb, the title of the movie, the premise, and Jeremy Renner’s name might lead you to think that you’re in for a Jason Borne style action thriller but it’s not. Kill the Messenger is a biopic but one that centers on a particular point of Gary Webb’s (Renner) life and like most biopics it has its moments.
The backdrop of the story is smoothly set up through clips and newspaper articles that gives you a broad context of the story you’re walking into. The contextual elements are there but the movie focuses on the man, Gary Webb. You get to know him through his work and family before you dive into the story that will forever change his life. It’s a slow built up, the tension rises with every piece of information he uncovers but at the same time you can feel this dark cloud looming on the edges and instinctively know that it’s all going to crumble.
Yes, there’s tension and an undeniable gut feeling that it won’t be all sunshine and unicorns at the end but the way done makes it bearable. The movie could have more exciting sensationalizing everything but Kill the Messenger is character driven, it’s Gary Webb’s point of view, and Gary is a reporter so the film just lays down the facts as a reporter would. Therefore when everything crumbles the only perspective you get is Gary’s. You can see repercussions his investigative journalism had on his life, with constant contextual hints showing how his article affected everybody else, how it blew up.
Renner’s character and his story takes center stage in the simplest matter of fact way possible and the cast does a great job of infusing life to it. Jeremy Renner is spot on as the investigative journalist that get consumed by his article. The rest of the cast is just as believable in showing how hard it was in the mid-90s to put to light a controversial issues.
Kill the Messenger really is a tribute film to Gary Webb, it tells his side of the story and walks you through what he went through and by the end you’re left to decide what you want to believe, leaving you to dig for information yourself.
Whatever you take on this story is, let me know what did you think of Kill the Messenger?