Film Review – Kill the Messenger (2014)

Messenger - postTitle – Kill the Messenger (2014)

Director – Michael Cuesta (Tell-Tale)

Cast – Jeremy Renner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michael Sheen, Oliver Platt, Barry Pepper, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta

Plot – Based on a true story, Kill the Messenger deals with small time journalist Gary Webb (Renner) who becomes embroiled in some dark business that may threaten his way of life after he exposes the CIA’s dealings with South American drug cartels in his local paper.

 “Some stories are just too true to tell”

Review by Eddie on 12/11/2015

One of those true life stories that is sadly more intriguing than it’s big screen treatment, Kill the Messenger is a middle of the road drama/thriller that for any number of reasons can’t break free from its shackles to become anything more than a mildly interesting cautionary tale, despite a decent turn by the in need of a hit Jeremy Renner and a subject matter that is ripe for political commentary.

At one time or another positioned for a run in the awards season, Michael Cuesta’s film found itself on the end of a low key world wide release that would’ve completely bypassed some people’s memories. Watching the film now it’s not hard to see why the film failed to make a splash. From the sombre tone, the uninspired yet workmanlike direction, a wasting of quality supports that range from Michael Sheen through to Michael Kenneth (Chalky White, Omar Little) Williams and a curiously lacking look into the nasty business the CIA was involved in in regard to the South American drug trade, Messenger just doesn’t do enough with its real life potent material to come fully to life.

I for one must be the first to admit to a lack of knowledge regarding what Messenger deals with and it’s in this fact that the most amount of good will stems from, as there’s a number of people that want to know more about the shady operations that America gets involved in. Renner’s dogged journalist Gary Webb unearths wide ranging and politically juicy facts about drugs being sold to fund various programs and wars and the film comes alive when both Gary and the audience get thrown into situations involving those that were privy to the clandestine operations. It does feel like there was more to unearth in this real life investigation but what is bought forward is enough to drive this film and the viewer’s interest without ever becoming truly invested as other films of the same ilk have done in the past.

By no means a badly made film, this is a film that will frustrate due to its undeniable potential that remains unreached, Kill the Messenger portrays some incredibly interesting events in a sadly non-incredible way. With another solid if unspectacular lead turn by the worryingly out of sorts Jeremy Renner, Messenger never gets out of first gear and succeeds to the level it does thanks to its real life events it depicts.

3 unlucky car windows out of 5

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12 responses to “Film Review – Kill the Messenger (2014)

  1. Eh, i’m not getting too worried about Mr. Renner just yet, though I have to say I agree he’s in need of a big hit fairly soon. Movies like this can only do so much for someone and while I did like it a bit more than yourself, I acknowledge it was very pedestrian.

  2. Good review Eddie. Being a journalist, this movie hit a lot harder for me. However, I do understand some of the problems people have with the way this flick handled the story.

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