Kill the Messenger
Time Out says
To use the parlance of journalism, Kill the Messenger buries the lede: We first spend time—not wasted, if not especially fresh—getting to know impassioned Bay Area writer Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), a real-life crusader for the San Jose Mercury News during the mid-’90s. After publishing a DEA-drug-seizing exposé, Webb finds himself drawn into a larger story involving Nicaraguan Contras, the CIA and the epidemic of crack cocaine. It’s an explosive find, leading Webb to stroke his goatee, crank up the Clash’s “Know Your Rights” on vinyl, and hammer out a three-part 1996 story titled “Dark Alliance,” one that became an early example of the Internet’s viral impact.
It’s here that Michael Cuesta’s earnest drama becomes a wholly more interesting ethics thriller à la The Insider, as Webb’s research is slowly debunked by embarrassed traditional newspapers, his family unravels, and the guy’s spirit fades. Renner is magnificent in these latter scenes, reduced from cock of the walk to besieged paranoiac, and you wish the movie gave him more Pacino-worthy moments to rage against his spineless colleagues. Seeing as how Kill the Messenger comes down firmly on the side of Webb’s truth, it’s unfortunate that his discoveries are only confirmed via the end credits. Missing from the action, too, is the merest hint of our hero’s demise by suicide in 2004. These aspects should have been better showcased; as is, it’s not the whole story.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf
Cast and crew
Mary Elizabeth Winstead