Movie Reviews

'Kill The Messenger': Jeremy Renner is enemy of the state

By Wang DexianMovies - 14 November 2014 2:31 PM | Updated 2:31 PM

'Kill The Messenger': Jeremy Renner is enemy of the state

Kill The Messenger

Our Rating

4/5 Stars

‘Kill The Messenger’ stars Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb, a journalist from the San Jose Mercury News, in a retelling of the real-life events that uncovered a conspiracy involving the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which reportedly allowed Nicaraguan drug cartels to import drugs into America in order to fund a war against the Contras, which in turn fuelled the crack cocaine crisis of the 1980s.

It is based on the book ‘Dark Alliance’, which is a series of news reports by Webb, and it brought him success, but also makes him a giant target for many people, including the CIA and even other journalists. 

Renner pulls double duty as both producer and star of the movie.

As Webb, he pulls out all the stops as someone who stumbles onto a lead that could potentially open up a huge can of worms for both himself and his country, but just cannot help himself in the pursuit of truth. 

While we all know that leaking information from the CIA will probably cause you some sleepless nights and paranoia, the most interesting bit of the fallout portrayed here is how other news organisations react to getting out scooped by Webb.

Most notably, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post all launch vicious campaigns to discredit Webb, while never addressing the main allegations that his reports reveal. 

It is here that Renner is in full force, as he fully embodies this man, slowly broken from fighting a losing battle against overwhelming forces such as the government and the hostility from his own industry peers. 

Better known for being an all-action hero, Renner (‘The Avengers’, ‘The Hurt Locker’) instils the role with a healthy dose of grit and desperation. 

The message and timeliness of the movie makes for a great viewing, but there are some rather cliched pitfalls as it further dramatises Webb’s personal life by involving his family in a crisis, and it comes off a bit forced and tacky. While it aims to further depict the fury of the establishment and its impact on Webb, it just does not seem to mesh well with the rest of the movie’s very real stakes.

At its very core, ‘Kill The Messenger’ is exactly what you would expect of a “crusading journalist” movie (think ‘The Insider’ or ‘State of Play’). 

It has a strong message and is thought-provoking, posing questions such as whether the establishment and news agencies are one and the same, and if there are conflicts of interest. 

Though it would have been even better if the filmmakers had  explored more of the media culture that built Webb up and then turned round to maul him, the actors’ strong performances, especially Renner’s, combined with the plot intrigue, make this a worthy addition to the sub-genre of investigative journalist films. 

‘Kill The Messenger’ opens in cinemas 13 November 2014

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Kill The Messenger
  • Kill The Messenger

    (2014)
  • Rated
    NC16 /
    Genre
    Crime, Drama, Mystery
  • Language
    Eng
  • (6 Reviews)