© 2021 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Movie Review

'Messenger' Is Fascinating But Hardly Balanced


Kill the Messenger is a pretty good political movie about what happened to a reporter who revealed illicit dealings of the CIA in Los Angeles, especially the bitter revenged imposed on him with--at the very minimum--the full acquiescence of the U.S. government. Its biggest flaw is that it's so utterly one-sided, but the facts it is based on are apparently undeniable now.

Jeremy Renner's newspaper is the relatively little San Jose Mercury, and the big papers like the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times are not only jealous of Renner's scoop but find it necessary to protect themselves against the fact that they didn't reveal the story themselves, since it had been lying there for all to see.

And the government does not like to have people know that the CIA had been peddling crack as a means of supporting its illegal backing of the rebellion against the leftist government of Nicaragua.

So Renner has to be discredited so nobody will believe what he is saying. His sources are inevitably criminals and CIA agents, so it's pretty easy to paint them all as professional liars, and the San Jose Mercury isn't big and strong enough to risk libel suits and bankruptcy. Woodward and Bernstein had powerful professional supporters behind them in the Watergate matter, but Kill the Messenger is about littler people who go as far as they can, but then cave in.

And we see so little of Renner's opponents by themselves that we never hear their side of the situation, which supposedly involves national security, as all questionable government activities seem to. Considering how important its story is, I wish Kill the Messenger didn't look so much like a propaganda movie.