Director: Michael Cuesta
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt, Michael Sheen, Andy Garcia
Plot: Based on a true story, this film is about Gary Webb, a reporter who uncovers facts on the CIA trafficking cocaine in America to fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
Review: Kill The Messenger turned out better than I thought it would. But then again, what was I thinking? Jeremy Renner is a solid actor, so this should be great already.
This story takes place in 1996, when Gary Webb, a reporter for a small newspaper company, stumbles on a story that could make his career. He discovers that the government, specifically the CIA, has been buying cocaine from Central America and selling them to the poor and mostly black folk in the country. The money earned is used to fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Although urged not to go ahead with it, Gary writes the story and gains fame, at first. Then things start to get ugly when various parties attempt to discredit or silence him, and his integrity and family are jeopardized.
Director Michael Cuesta and screenwriter Peter Landesman deserve plenty of credit for their great work here. Landesman puts in all the important facts (taken from two books, one written by the real Gary Webb) and Cuesta nicely pieces them together and makes it fascinating, thrilling and dramatic at the same time. He wisely inserts real footage of the story in between his own film scenes and keeps the pace taut, so there is not a single dull moment here, even when it's quiet.
Renner is excellent as Gary, presenting him as a man who simply wants to tell the truth, not for fame or fortune, but because he feels it's his job as a reporter to do so. This could possibly be his best role yet. Credit also goes to the supporting cast, namely Rosemarie DeWitt as his wife and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as his editor. The former is solid as the spouse who stands by him despite the many things that threaten to destroy their family, the latter also equally good as the editor who is torn between supporting Gary or the paper they both work for. Michael Sheen, OliverPlatt and Andy Garcia also make their presence felt here, and Ray Liotta even manages to impress with a small but unusually low key performance as a CIA informant.
My only gripe is that the film doesn't quite end the way I wanted it to, but I can't say I blame them, facts are facts. I can only say it's kinda sad, but on a brighter note, in a world now focused on invasion of privacy and terrorism, having this story brought to our attention so well by Cuesta and Renner is an astounding achievement.
As far as true stories being adapted to the screen go, no matter how much of this actually happened the way it unfolded here, this is one of the best I've seen. Recommended. (8/10)