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Film Review: Meet the Press in Illuminating ‘Kill the Messenger’

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Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

CHICAGO – When journalists were heroes and exposed those in power for their sins, movies were made like “All the President’s Men.” Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News was one of those journalist heroes during the 1990s, but he wasn’t celebrated in his time. The indictments, induced paranoia and outright lies against him are distinctly chronicled in the luminary “Kill the Messenger.”

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

Jeremy Renner gives a riveting performance as Webb, who broke the story that the CIA partnered with drug lords to flood poor, minority neighborhoods in Los Angeles with crack cocaine, in order to fund the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua (Central America). This Ronald Reagan administration effort was essentially true, as reported by Webb, but the corporate powers that had changed and controlled their media holdings since Watergate wanted the story to go away – and therefore wanted Webb to be brought down. Filled with head-smacking revelations, “Kill the Messenger” may be one of the most important films of the year, if only to point out that “journalism” is dead, especially if a story takes aim at people who control power. They want to squelch anything that will expose their evil and manipulation.

Gary Webb (Renner) is a mid-level reporter for the smaller market San Jose (California) Mercury News. Following up on a previous story, Webb begins to see links between a drug smuggler named Rafael (Aaron Farb) and a local drug runner named Quail (Robert Patrick), both persons of interest to the U.S. Government. Since it doesn’t make sense, a little digging leads Webb to Central America.

The tightly established plan that the CIA put into place – to fund Contra rebels using drug money earned from poor neighborhoods in America, which replaced the lack of funding from Congress – begins to unravel under Webb’s reporting. At first the story is a sensation, but when the corporate media realizes that they missed the story and as it damaged powerful U.S. reputations, both the media and the government piles on to destroy Gary’s story.

“Kill the Messenger” opened everywhere on October 10th. Featuring Jeremy Renner, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosemarie DeWitt, Barry Pepper, Oliver Platt, Michael Sheen and Andy Garcia. Written by Peter Landesman. Directed by Michael Cuesta. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Kill the Messenger”

Jeremy Renner
Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb in ‘Kill the Messenger’
Photo credit: Focus Features

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Kill the Messenger”

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