ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – K – Kill the Messenger (2014)

Director: Michael Cuesta

Writer: Peter Landesman (Screenplay) Gary Webb, Nick Schou (Book)

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ray Liotta, Barry Pepper, Oliver Platt, Michel Sheen, Andy Garcia

 

Plot: Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb. The film takes place in the mid-1990s, when Webb uncovered the CIA’s past role in importing huge amounts of cocaine into the U.S. that was aggressively sold in ghettos across the country to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras’ rebel army. Despite enormous pressure not to, Webb chose to pursue the story and went public with his evidence, publishing the series “Dark Alliance”. As a result he experienced a vicious smear campaign fueled by the CIA. At that point Webb found himself defending his integrity, his family, and his life.


Tagline –  How the CIA’s crack-cocaine controversy destroyed journalist Gary Webb

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Investigation Journalism 101

 

Story: Kill the Messenger starts as reporter Gary Webb (Renner) has been investigating the handling of drug dealers who are fond not guilty in a court of law. This opens the door for Gary to a whole new story about how the CIA had been using drug trade to fund a war in Nicaragua.

The deeper Gary got into the story the more the CIA put pressure on him as he must regain his reputation after the CIA pulls the same tricks to disgrace him.

 

Thoughts on Kill the Messenger

 

Characters – The characters in this film are based on the real people, we are looking at their own decisions which would have put them in the position they find themselves in. Gary Webb is a reporter, he believes he has the biggest story of his career which puts his own family life and career on the line by trying to expose the CIA. Sue is the wife that sees her personal life become part of the sideshow in the press. We do have many other reporters, contacts, CIA agents, lawyers and even the drug dealers themselves who interact with Gary as the story comes to the light of day.

PerformancesJeremy Renner is the star of this film, he does a great job in the leading role dealing with the different situations he finds himself in. the film is filled with great performances from the characters actors we have seen in plenty of films through the years.

StoryThe story here shows us one man’s determination to try and bring a story to life, one that could expose the governments secrets. This brings him into a personal battle against the CIA who are trying to ruin his reputation and destroy his creditability. The is based on the real man and the real story which once again shows us just how governments can become corrupt for their own gain. Though this is based on the true story, it does feel like it is lacking something to truly bring us into the film, we find ourselves just on the side lines of the story which never reaches the levels it could do.

Biopic/Crime/MysteryThe biopic side of this film is the important part of the film, we focus on the man whose story turned people against him even though he was exposing a big crime within the government.

SettingsThe settings do take us around America and even through the North America countries as we see where the truth is being designed to send us to the different corners of the truth.


Scene of the Movie –
Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Driving looked terribly fake.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic movie that does set out to show us the truth about the CIA using the drug trade to fund a war but quickly turns into the CIA trying to discredit the man behind it all, it doesn’t reach the highest levels we are hoping for even it Renner does shine through the film.

 

Overall: One for the biopic fans out there.

Rating

 

 

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American Assassin (2017)

Director: Michael Cuesta

Writer: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, Marshal Herskovitz (Screenplay) Vince Flynn (Novel)

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Scott Adkins, Shiva Negar, Taylor Kitsch

 

Plot: A story centered on counterterrorism agent Mitch Rapp.


Tagline – Assassins aren’t born. They’re made.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hard Hitting Action Blast

 

Story: American Assassin starts as normal American Mitch Rapp (O’Brien) sees his fiancée gunned down by terrorists and himself left for dead, 18 months later he has trained himself to eliminate the men responsible but little does he know that CIA agent Irene Kennedy (Lathan) has been watching his action.

When Kennedy arranges to save Mitch from a certain death, she recruits him for a special section of the CIA working under Stan Hurley (Keaton) who trains agents to go undercover but if caught or killed no one will come for them.

The first mission is to locate nuclear weapon components before former agent Ghost (Kitsch) can use or sell them giving somebody in the world a nuclear bomb that can wipe out millions.

 

Thoughts on American Assassin

 

Characters – Mitch Rapp is an American that loses everything at the hands of terrorists, he learns combat and language skills to go undercover in the terrorist cell for revenge, he gets recruited by the CIA where he must learn discipline but this is where he struggles because he always wants to go after the criminal. This character does feel like a young Jack Bauer because of his rule breaking attitude for the right reasons. Stan Hurley is the off the grid trainer who takes Mitch as part of his unit, he gets tired of the Mitch’s lack of discipline but knows he needs him to capture his former student. Irene Kennedy is the deputy director of the CIA, she sees the potential in Mitch forcing Hurley to take him on, but also falls into the standard CIA director figure that will risk their reputation to prove others wrong. Ghost is the former trainee of Hurley that is using all the skills gained to stay one step ahead of him while collecting the nuclear components.

PerformancesDylan O’Brien is an actor that got into the young adult films but this role showed an adult character, showing he could go onto action films without looking like the complete actions star. Michael Keaton looks like he did enjoy the mentoring role while also getting the action role he isn’t known for. Sanaa Lathan is good in her role even if the character is very generic. Taylor Kitsch does seem to be on the recovering his career tour showing everyone just how talented he is in the villainous role.

StoryThe story does play out like an origin story for Mitch Rapp in the CIA, we see what motivated him to accept the offer, we see what makes him different from other potential agents. We have the standard level of threat, potential nuclear weapon and a story of needing to learn discipline to become a top agent while keeping his unique traits. This is an easy to watch but could easily be an over the top pilot for a television show.

Action/ThrillerThe action starts out brutal with the terrorist attack, we also fall into the car chases, fights and shoot outs which are fun to watch, the final action sequences is just popcorn wow.

SettingsThe settings take us on a tour of Europe which is fine and is giving us an iconic location moment, which is easy to locate for us.

Special EffectsThe effects in the opening sequence are brutal but then it just becomes by the book stuff.


Scene of the Movie –
Speed Boat fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While it started with violent level, it did turn into Jack Bauer origin feeling.

Chances of Sequel: Easily could have one.

Post Credits Scene: No

Final ThoughtsThis is an action film that is fun but not one of the greatest of the year.

 

Overall: Fun action packed blast.

Rating