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Fair Game (2010)


Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 169
Fresh: 134
Rotten: 35

Critics Consensus: It struggles with the balance between fact-based biopic and taut political thriller, but Fair Game brims with righteous anger -- and benefits from superb performances by Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 38
Fresh: 29
Rotten: 9

Critics Consensus: It struggles with the balance between fact-based biopic and taut political thriller, but Fair Game brims with righteous anger -- and benefits from superb performances by Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 28,171




Movie Info

As a covert officer in the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division, Valerie leads an investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Valerie's husband, diplomat JOE WILSON (Sean Penn), is drawn into the investigation to substantiate an alleged sale of enriched uranium from Niger. But when the administration ignores his findings and uses the issue to support the call to war, Joe writes a New York Times editorial outlining his conclusions and ignites a firestorm of … More

PG-13 (for some language)
Drama , Action & Adventure , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
Jez Butterworth , John Butterworth
In Theaters:
Mar 29, 2011
Box Office:
Summit Entertainment - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Fair Game

All Critics (169) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (134) | Rotten (35) | DVD (4)

This isn't a message movie, per se, but a strong point of view comes through regardless: In the battle of principles vs. politics, politics always win.

Full Review… | April 4, 2011
Toronto Star
Top Critic

An absorbing, unhysterical thriller that largely rejects the clichés of the genre.

Full Review… | March 9, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

The blind-siding of Valerie Plame wasn't fair and wasn't a game, but this cinematic outcome is a touchdown for true patriots.

Full Review… | November 19, 2010
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Fair Game" is such a brutal and personal testimony to the consequences of dirty politics that it often feels too ugly to be true. Unfortunately, it is.

Full Review… | November 19, 2010
Detroit News
Top Critic

For every spycraft scene, every illustration of the deadly blowback from the leak that Liman dramatizes, the movie has half a dozen scenes of a delicately balanced home life turned on its head by a government bent on destroying one of its critics.

Full Review… | November 17, 2010
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Naomi Watts settles for semi-inscrutability while Penn, engaging as he is, is encouraged, particularly toward the end, to deliver his performance from the lectern.

Full Review… | November 12, 2010
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

Naomi Watt delivers but the script offers a lifeless story and too many one-dimensional characters to name.

Full Review… | January 6, 2013
Big Hollywood

If the filmmakers had skimmed off some of the exposition from the first half, and tightened it up in order to get to the main part of the story faster, it would have worked a lot better.

Full Review… | September 22, 2012

Another of Participant Media's earnest, well-meaning, well-made, but rather dry efforts that definitely do their job in conveying the intended message but not so much as engaging drama.

Full Review… | February 7, 2012

Gripping real-life spy movie Fair Game, a sober and sobering account of the double-dealing of the Bush White House in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq.

Full Review… | July 18, 2011
Movie Talk

Despite its flaws, this movie feels necessary.

Full Review… | July 14, 2011
Digital Spy

The cast is great, but the material is dated, and the political thrills are not always perfectly sharp.

Full Review… | May 16, 2011

The script is intelligent, the acting is understated yet powerful, and the actors were well cast at all levels.

Full Review… | April 17, 2011
Movie Metropolis

confirmation that all is well for only as long as everyone agrees not to know anything

Full Review… | April 11, 2011
Film Freak Central

Terrific acting and a sharp, brainy script hold our interest, but we never properly feel the emotional punch.

Full Review… | April 4, 2011
Shadows on the Wall

If you watched the news while all this was going down, you don't really need to see this movie, but it's good that it exists.

Full Review… | April 4, 2011

Fair Game is interesting if only to witness the war of words on both sides and see the actual damage [Plame's] outing caused.

Full Review… | April 3, 2011

A drama about the cost of idealism and sticking to your guns in order to bring truth to the light.

Full Review… | April 1, 2011
Window to the Movies

Não há como negar que os grandes vilões de Jogo de Poder não se encontram no Afeganistão ou no Iraque, mas na Casa Branca.

Full Review… | March 19, 2011
Cinema em Cena

Although the outline of this story is well known, Fair Game gives it dramatic shape and teases out the moral problems raised.

Full Review… | March 14, 2011

The script, based on memoirs of their experience by Wilson and Plame, has two stories to tell -- the run-up to Iraq, and the portrait of a marriage under fire -- and combines them very adroitly.

Full Review… | March 11, 2011

A more self-indulgent piece of movie-making is hard to imagine.

Full Review… | March 11, 2011
Daily Mirror [UK]

It's a thriller that shows the twists and turns of fate with some skill but also rages effectively against the way the most powerful usually win.

Full Review… | March 11, 2011
This is London

Condescending and clumsy, this never rises beyond boilerplate conventions: call it The Bored Identity.

Full Review… | March 11, 2011

Fair Game is a gripping snapshot of the events leading up to the war in Iraq and the subsequent fallout for Valerie, Joe and their family.

Full Review… | March 11, 2011
Liverpool Echo

Audience Reviews for Fair Game

During the run-up to the Second Iraq War, the Bush Administration released the name of a CIA agent whose husband was critical of Bush's "evidence."
Naomi Watts and Sean Penn deliver very strong performances as Valerie Plame Wilson and Joe Wilson. Watts is believable in her vulnerable scenes, reeling from the Bush Administration's treason, and Penn brings his natural intensity to his portrayal of Joe Wilson. Both in terms of the film and the actual events, I wondered why (or why not) the Wilsons never discussed the article that led to Valerie's betrayal. Regardless of the film's reliance on actual events, the story proceeds predictably, complete with the inspirational visit to Valerie's father who dispenses age-old wisdom. The story of the Iraqi scientists is also incomplete.
Overall, carried by strong leading performances, Fair Game is not as polemic as it could be and follows a rather predictable path.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

"Fair Game" is not as engrossing as it should be considering its subject matter and pedigree.

The Gandiman
Tony Gandía

Super Reviewer


I am NOT a political movie fan. However, this movie was extremely interesting. This would have been a fantastic movie even if it was fiction. But, what made this story frightening is that it was true. I remember the 2003 pre-Iraq invasion media blitz to bolster public support for the war. The real-life characters in this film, heroes, dared to speak the truth about the Iraq situation in an environment of blind frenzy disguised as patriotism. The tragic story of Joe and Valerie Wilson is amazing. The movie does a fantastic job of telling their story, and showing the emotional distress, that this moment of national shame caused the Wilsons. I only wish that I could have rewritten the that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were sent to jail for life for treason!

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

A fantastic political thriller type film that features great performances from Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, but it moves a little too slowly in parts, and gives no real depth to the characters. This film is brimming with anger, which is compelling, and the performances are brilliant which is what drives the film. Overall, Fair Game is an above average political thriller/biopic that deserved more attention.

Raymond Wieser
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer

Fair Game Quotes

Valerie Plame Wilson:
It's the White House. Do you seriously think you pick a fight with the White House and win? They'll bury us!
Joe Wilson:
They bury us if we don't!
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Valerie Plame Wilson:
When Kammel was executed in 95 the team just drifted apart. They're all saying the same thing. There is no weapons program.
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Internal Security Officer:
I don't know anything about the tubes. I'm not qualified.
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Joe Wilson:
If I yell louder, does that make what I'm saying right!?
– Submitted by Alonso A (2 years ago)
Joe Wilson:
The responsibility of a country is not in the hands of a privileged few. We are strong, and we are free from tyranny as long as each one of us remembers his or her duty as a citizen. Whether it's to report a pothole at the top of your street or lies in a State of the Union address, speak out! Ask those questions. Demand that truth. Democracy is not a free ride, man. I'm here to tell you. But, this is where we live. And if we do our job, this is where our children will live. God bless America.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
Dr. Zahraa:
How do you do it? Lie to someone to their face? Huh?
Valerie Plame Wilson:
You have to know, know why you're lying... And never forget the truth.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

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