Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Kill the Messenger Review

A couple of weeks back I went and saw the movie Nightcrawler. It was what I called a journalism thriller and man did it provide a whole heck of a lot of thrills. However, it was actually the second of two journalism-themed movies that came out in October and my initial plan was to actually see Nightcrawler second. My plan got thrown off balance when the first movie ended up only being released in a limited number of theaters and after a poor showing in limited release, it didn't expand very far. So I had to go a bit out of my way to find it. But I did. This movie of course is Kill the Messenger. After all that effort, I can honestly say that it was worth it. This is a movie that I think addresses a very serious issue and does a very good job of it. It might be difficult to track down, but if you can manage to find this movie, I would definitely recommend you give it a shot.

When you look at the title of Kill the Messenger, it immediately sounds like an action thriller, especially once you see that Jeremy Renner is the star. But no. This is no action movie. And in fact, it's really not a thriller either. This is simply a journalism drama that is based on the true story of Gary Webb. Jeremy Renner stars as Gary Webb, who is a journalist in the 1990's. Webb is just going about his daily business when suddenly someone comes to him with some really intriguing news. He takes that news and runs with, doing his own personal investigation on what ends up being a story about the CIA's involvement in a secret drug operation in Nicaragua. After getting himself in some pretty deep water, he is left with a choice. Does he do his job as a reporter and share this information with the public by publishing his story? Or does he protect his own life, the life of his family, and his own job by keeping the story to himself and sacrificing that journalist integrity? Well, by the title of the movie, you know what his decision is and following that decision, we get to see the sad events that transpire in consequence to his actions.

What I really liked about this movie was that it displayed what has always been a very hard dilemma for journalists throughout the history of journalism. The job of a journalist is to essentially be a watchdog. You protect your city by informing them of what is going on, whether it be good or bad. You tell them the honest truth. But are there situations where the truth is better left untold? Is that fair for the public? What if publishing the story will put you in harm's way or put your job in jeopardy? Journalists are human beings and as human beings, they don't always make the best decisions, but can you blame them for being human and trying to protect themselves and their job? But also, there are plenty of journalists who do take the bold step of putting everything on the line in order to inform the public of what is going on. These journalists deserve praise and recognition. Sometimes they get that praise and their work pays off big time, like in the Watergate scandal. But sadly some of them take that huge risk and it all blows up in their face. And it's very unfortunate when that happens. But that's life.

Being a journalism student right now, this is a movie that hit home. I don't know where my life or career will take me, but as a student I've done a lot of journalism work and thus I really felt for Jeremy Renner's character. And man, Renner really knocks it out of the park with this. I'll be perfectly honest, sometimes the pacing of the movie isn't always done right, but Renner's performance definitely makes up for it. Renner hasn't always been on my radar, but that definitely changed when he nailed the role of Hawkeye in The Avengers and followed that up with another great performance as Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy. Even though that movie wasn't perfect, Renner still made it entertaining and I can't wait to see him reprise that role in 2016's The Bourne Betrayal, especially if we get Matt Damon to come back and join him like has been the word recently. Moral of the story is Jeremy Renner has become one of my favorite actors and he does another great job in Kill the Messenger and it makes me want to go back and catch up on some of his older work that I have missed.

So overall, I think Kill the Messenger was a fantastic film and even though it didn't get a whole lot of attention, which is a bit of a sad irony considering what the purpose of the movie was, I am glad that I found it and I would strongly recommend that you find a way to check this out, even if that means waiting for it to show up in Redbox, which is should do eventually. That would be a very well spent dollar and change. The movie touches on a very important and sad reality in the journalism world that I think everyone should be informed of. Gary Webb may not have had a very happy life, be a lot can be learned from his story and Jeremy Renner really nails this performance in his portrayal of Gary Webb. My grade for Kill the Messenger is a 9/10.

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