The United States government, drugs, and media used in the same sentence can only end in controversy. What better way to remember such a controversy, than through a film for the masses to see? You’re entering the world of Michael Cuesta’s Kill the Messenger. Journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) has uncovered a controversy that only the C.I.A. could keep under wraps. When the secretive government agency is found to have brought drugs into the country’s troubled neighborhoods, Webb discovers that this was all a part of a plan to fund the rebellion taking place in Nicaragua in the 1980s. After Webb publishes his story, he finds fame, but he also experiences the true power of the C.I.A. as they set out to ruin his life. Webb must decide what’s more important: his journalistic integrity or his life.
Overall Kill the Messenger ended up being adequate. One could even say it underachieved its expectations. The audience follows Webb on his journey to piece together his story. He falls into some suspenseful situations, and we hang on to these on the edge of our seats. Hell, even the title sequence sets the mood for a government thriller worth seeing.
Unfortunately, Just as the film is about to hit its stride as an Oscar-contender, it plateaus. Flatlines. The audience holds on for the pace to pick up, and carry them into a climactic third act. They are fooled. I know it’s based on a true story, but come on, Disney could have pulled it off. There wasn’t enough emphasis on his family relationship in the second half of the film. Also, a random appearance by an important character takes the audience out of the film. They’re left not knowing where to go in search of the end of the film.
Jeremy Renner gave a quality performance. However, he could only perform as good as the story allows him to. That means he only acted really well for half of the film, and the rest of it he appeared as lost in his search of a performance as his character was in search of an end to his story.
If you need a good half of a film to watch, then Kill the Messenger is your film. Jeremy Renner will find his Oscar swan boat soon enough, but unfortunately it won't be this one. The Fall is one of the best times for films, as the festivals and award seasons are well in sight. We’re almost there. Just not yet.
Kill the Messenger is now playing in Philly theaters.