Fair Game (12A)

Film

Thrillers

Fair Game.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Mar 8 2011

In an attempt to ensure some Hollywood glitter at last year’s Cannes, Doug Liman’s star-driven, serious-minded if hardly mould-breaking Iraq War drama was awarded a slot in competition. Was allowing some of the world’s fiercest critics to sink their teeth into it really the best marketing move, not to mention having it compete against films which contained, say, catfish-based cunnilingus?

A year on, and looking at it with none of the festival hurly burly, the film emerges as an absorbing, unhysterical thriller that largely rejects the clichés of the genre. Based on the headline-grabbing Valerie Plame affair which played out between 2003 and 2007, it stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn as a happily married bourgeois couple based in Washington: she is Plame,
a top-ranking CIA operative tasked with attaining intelligence to either support or reject the legitimacy of the US government’s argument for war in the Middle East; he is an ex-US diplomat sent to Niger to investigate claims that the country was selling yellowcake uranium to Saddam.

The film is split into two chapters: the first has the feel of a more urgent political thriller, as the pair undertake their respective fact-finding missions, while the second is more a bleary-eyed melodrama charting family breakdown as their findings are manipulated by the White House. The unshowy script by sibling writers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth proposes that there is no such thing as fact, only context, an idea that would’ve been more penetrating were it shorn of the liberal hectoring that colours much of the dialogue.
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Mar 11, 2011

Duration:

106 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Doug Liman

Screenwriter:

Jez Butterworth, John Butterworth

Cast:

Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Ty Burrell

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

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Mike

A lot of movies and documentaries have done the US/Washington/Iraq/reasons to legitimise a war/conspiracy thing before - and none better than the political satire "In The Loop" (2009). But this was based on real events, real lives, and the CIA wrongly turning on one of its own. And it was deeply worrying that Washington also had a problem distinguishing between Niger and Nigeria. All of that aside, I was bored rigid, which is unusual as I closely follow current affairs and the ingredients for a reasonable film were there. Sean Penn was a little too angry. Naomi Watts was too cold to make me feel their marriage was vaguely solid before the pressure built up. At one point I thought Penn put on emotion as a small child puts on crocodile tears - far from convincing. Some four people walked out, and there was more fidgetting in this movie than I've known in such a small audience for a long time - people endlessly up and down to the loo - perhaps to stretch after a nap. However, my boredom turned to pleasure - when the credits started to roll. Two (generous) stars, or 3/10.

philmk

This is the true story of how and why the USA Vice President's office betrayed a covert staff officer of the CIA, and the consequences, especially for scientists in Iraq and people interested in their weapons-related skills. I wouldn't want it to be the usual gung-ho shoot em up thriller. Perhaps a documentary would have been more appropriate, but it wouldn't have reached as many people as this true-life thriller. Judging from photographs, Valerie Plame looks at least as glamorous as Naomi Watts in real life.

philmk

This is the true story of how and why the USA Vice President's office betrayed a covert staff officer of the CIA, and the consequences, especially for scientists in Iraq and people interested in their weapons-related skills. I wouldn't want it to be the usual gung-ho shoot em up thriller. Perhaps a documentary would have been more appropriate, but it wouldn't have reached as many people as this true-life thriller. Judging from photographs, Valerie Plame looks at least as glamorous as Naomi Watts in real life.

Justin Berkovi

Another dreary self conscious 'factual drama' from Hollywood. Whilst Michael Man demonstrated genius with 'The Insider', 'Fair Game' is a boring political drama that just doesn't really go anywhere. The subject matter is flat now and somewhat stale and the lack of any real tension means that any dramatic element is lost. Pretty tedious stuff although Naomi Watts looks stunning.