Kill the Messenger (2014)

Biography, Crime, Drama
Jeremy Renner, Robert Patrick, Jena Sims, Robert Pralgo
A reporter becomes the target of a vicious smear campaign that drives him to the point of suicide after he exposes the CIA's role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine ...
Kill the Messenger's potent fury over the tale of its real-life subject overrides its factual inaccuracies and occasional narrative stumbles.
  • Focus Features Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 09 Oct 2014 Released:
  • 10 Feb 2015 DVD Release:
  • $2.4M Box office:

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Really liked the whole thing. A great drama.8/10
It was a movie that made me think, as it involved a different angle to a subject that I knew something about.

The trailer suggest that the movie is about the true story of Gary Webb's article that suggest the CIA were evolved with drug dealing as a way to fund a war in the 1980's, but as the title of the movie described the people read the article and ran with their own conspiracies which lead to a CIA cover up that lead to Webb's downward spiral.

It is an Intriguing tell of a journalist trying to keep his integrity while forces were trying to ruin it to keep their own.

Jeremy Renner drove his acting vehicle well, not well enough in my opinion to win an Oscar or anything, but it proves that he can headline anything.

Definitely a good movie to sit through.
Gripping and Important10/10
"Kill the Messenger" is both a very gripping film and an important film. Even though I know what our government was up to in those days (as if things have changed), I could hardly breathe, anticipating what would come next in the movie. My only concern about the film is the speculation that those who are ignorant of what occurred in those days would grasp that the money from drug sales went to buy weapons (it was almost glossed over). The acting in this film is superb, with one exception (the person who played Coral Baca--way overdone and not convincing). Knowing that the film is based on true events gives it amazing heft. I think it's an unforgettable portrayal of how our government can go astray--it's history but also a warning for those of us who have been demoralized by the current state of politics and who tend to trust certain names in the media. The film should be required viewing by every member of Congress, by every high school student, by those who call themselves journalists.
Journalism history forcefully told: This really happened.5/10
"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Winston Churchill

Gary Webb suffered greatly for writing about the CIA's enabling drug selling on US streets to fund the Nicaraguan contras in the '90's. As a sincere but flawed muckraker, he pursued the truth writing for the San Jose Mercury News and, naturally, incurred the wrath of the feds.

While nothing is surprising given the fame of the incident, director Michael Cuesta approaches this "inspired-by" biopic also as a thriller with dramatic underpinnings. The film allows us to be caught up in the drama of a reporter catching a big one, only to have the fish the size of Moby Dick. As Webb tries to hold on to his family, despite warnings they are vulnerable, we go deeper with him into the frustrations of cowardly colleagues and questionable contacts, who stand ready to compromise the integrity of his series called Dark Alliance.

The specter of All the President's Men haunts most stories about idealistic journalists, and it is no different here. Webb is a dedicated, overzealous journalist who seeks the truth while fulfilling his natural-born inclination to cause trouble. As such, his publisher, Jerry Ceppos (Oliver Platt), must deal with the CIA's and prominent news organizations' allegations about Webb's uneven reporting, which jeopardizes the reputation of his newspaper because of his sometimes questionable conclusions from dicey sources and the incendiary nature of the allegations, including how much money actually made it to the contras or how large the drug operations were.

After all Webb's investigations, nothing is more explosive than his allegations that this cocaine trafficking was responsible for the crack crisis in large cities like Los Angeles. Major newspapers like The New York Times went after Webb and his imperfect reporting. His editor said, "We couldn't support some of the statements that had been made."

Eventually Webb committed suicide even though the CIA had admitted involvement or at least knowledge of the trafficking. The pursuit of truth for reporters is not easy, nor has the well-known adage of killing the messenger abated in the least. This film is as exciting as any thriller, and just as depressing.
Superb acting,writing & three interwoven themes: government corruption, whistle blower retaliation, rare integrity10/10
I drove 140 miles, round trip, in foreboding weather, to attend the nearest U.S. opening.

It was well worth it.

First some context.

I've freelanced for decades, including during a war, successfully exposed major governmental corruption, weathered concerted retaliation and have been regularly appalled at the weakness of corporate, bureaucratic and political weasels who abandoned ideals, professionalism and integrity, "going along to get along." I was aware of Webb's writing and vilification at the time they occurred, in the late '90s, but for over 50 years I had a front row seat for even pre-Nixonian "drug wars" through the "crack epidemic," genocidal American imperialism, and the treatment of many other reporters who dared challenge the status quo, who had the courage to painfully examine the quaint and naive notion of collective national decency.

Webb's story, so artfully recounted and performed, was unfortunately true. He was accused of distorting the actuality of Reagan-era hypocrisy, but his reporting was accurate. He never accused the CIA of intentionally destroying the social fabric of minority communities, but made it clear that Harlem and Watts and Chicago's South Side were victims of "collateral damage," the inevitable consequences of the abandonment of any pretense of morality ostensibly possessed by the Reagan administration.

Indeed, spurred by new information about the practice of questionable property seizures, Webb had once again picked at the scab covering the decade-old, gangrenous infestation of our government, later well described by Robert Parry in his October 2004 Salon piece, "How Kerry exposed the Contra-cocaine scandal." To get the story, Webb had exposed himself to blood curdling danger, both at his own home in the U.S. and on the scene, in Central America.

Perhaps the worst betrayal of public trust by this film is depicted in recapitulation of the collective response of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, after being pressured by the CIA and the State Department. The papers' responded with hyperactive involvement in the personal destruction of Webb's reporting, reputation and life. Previously. the same papers, pressured by Reagan administration officials, buried Senator John Kerry's investigation, and shared subsequent malfeasance in their facilitating the Bush/Cheney administration's illegal and genocidal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The NY Times and Post had some odious history themselves. Reporters Ray Bonner and Alma Guillermoprieto were reassigned to boring beats after their courageous exposure of the incredibly savage El Mozote Massacre in El Salvador.

There, the U.S. trained, funded and armed Atlacatl Battalion murdered almost a thousand peasants, largely neutral evangelical Protestants, and mostly women and children, on December 11, 1981. Stanley Miesler's El Mozote Case Study, published in the Columbia Journalism Review, exhaustively documented their fates.

This film captured all those similar disgraceful elements. It needs to be seen by a wider audience just as it would be wise to make "Dr. Strangelove" part of a core curriculum in the formal education of American adolescents.
Kill The Messenger8/10
"National security and crack cocaine in the same sentence. Does that not sound strange to you?" Kill The Messenger dives into an intense and important, often forgotten, segment of history. That being said, as the title implies, the film ultimately centralizes around reporter Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) and what happens to him when he comes across this shocking discovery. With strong performances by the cast and a clear focus by the director, the film comes out shaky in a few parts but overall provides a riveting and respectful look at this man's life.

Jeremy Renner is the star of this story, and he performs excellently. Renner fully commits into becoming Webb. Besides decently looking like the real Webb physically, he captures a wide range of emotions that the man would have faced - from being a cool reporter to a struggling and scared husband and father. Some characters do not impress as much in their performances, but Renner is able to carry the lead role well enough to support the film.

The cinematography and visuals fit the tone of the film very well. Stylized heavily with its colors and the other external footage it uses, the film gives off an aged and exciting feel, similar to other movies from past decades. What ties it all together though is its clear focus. Director Michael Cuesta has a clear goal of what he wants the film to be about - Gary Webb. While not all the scenes succeed in contributing to that, the majority of it is cohesive enough to let audiences understand the characters without losing the intensity and action of the larger picture - the cocaine smuggling.

With its commendable technical aspects and the important subject it deals with, Kill The Messenger is definitely a film worth seeing. Jeremy Renner and the director together bring a lot to the film, and while it's not entirely superb, it gives a good two hours of entertainment that means something, especially today. RATING: [8/10]