Fair Game Reviews

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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
April 4, 2011
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 | Original Score: 3/4
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David Jenkins
Time Out
March 9, 2011
An absorbing, unhysterical thriller that largely rejects the clichés of the genre.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
November 19, 2010
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 | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
November 19, 2010
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 | Original Score: B+
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
November 17, 2010
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 | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
November 12, 2010
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 | Original Score: B-
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
November 12, 2010
You'd have to go back to All the President's Men for a better example of fresh American political scandal being turned into slam-bang, star-powered drama.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
November 11, 2010
Liman skillfully intercuts television news footage of the president and administration officials with a skilled cast of actors.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
November 11, 2010
Naomi Watts and Sean Penn bring ferocity and feeling to their roles, turning a potent political thriller into a stirring, relatable human drama.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
November 5, 2010
It starts with thriller clichés and ends in sanctimonious preaching, but in between there are a couple of true things: a portrait of a marriage under stress, and a depiction of the arrogance of power that leaves a sharp after-burn.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
November 5, 2010
Things worked out between Joe and Valerie, and for their real-life models, who are now the subjects of a terrifically entertaining movie. But that does not mean that justice was done, or that truth prevailed.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
November 5, 2010
There's a radical lesson in this story about the ways of permanent government and protect-their-own professionals ... But that's one that this film is too polite, safe and self-satisfied to ever bring to the screen -- let alone get in focus.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
November 5, 2010
Though based on a true story with a well-known outcome, Doug Liman's "Fair Game" is as suspenseful as any fictional thriller -- and considerably more tragic.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
November 5, 2010
Unless your pulse races at the mention of Robert Novak, you'll be underwhelmed.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
November 5, 2010
A crackling political thriller that deftly navigates the knife edge between all-too-familiar recent history and more universal personal drama.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Eric D. Snider
Film.com
November 5, 2010
The film is OK, but with more nuance and less message-hammering it could have been great.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
November 4, 2010
Most of the scenes depicting the couple's domestic life are borderline-banal, and they miniaturize the political drama that plays out partly in public, partly in the shadows but almost always in a middle distance just beyond emotional reach.
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
November 4, 2010
The spectacle is irresistible, as Liman and screenwriters Jez and John-Henry Butterworth unspool a story all about truth versus lies, professionals versus amateurs, villains versus heroes and patriots versus posturing careerists.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Christopher Kelly
Dallas Morning News
November 4, 2010
What the filmmakers do capture brilliantly is the human cost of espionage and political gamesmanship.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
November 4, 2010
It seems to be doing everything right but still doesn't manage to leave you with a completely satisfied feeling.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
November 4, 2010
Doug Liman's "Fair Game" is written as a drama and paced as a thriller, and it works just fine both ways.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
November 4, 2010
It's a real-life spy drama. It's human drama. It's political drama. And it's engrossing, all around.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
November 4, 2010
A strident, condescending Hollywood melodrama.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Kathleen Murphy
MSN Movies
November 4, 2010
The only honest work in Fair Game comes from Naomi Watts, an actress who couldn't cheat if she wanted to.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Nathan Rabin
AV Club
November 4, 2010
Liman gives the action the you-are-there immediacy that distinguished his earlier tale of international intrigue, The Bourne Identity.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
November 4, 2010
Liman's sensibility isn't sophisticated enough to tease out the nuances of what must be a pretty interesting marriage; the movie is more about texture and surfaces and surface tensions. But it moves.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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David Denby
New Yorker
November 4, 2010
Real-world political melodrama, with obvious good and bad guys, but intelligent and well acted.
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
November 4, 2010
What's effective is how matter-of-fact Fair Game is. This isn't a lathering, angry attack picture.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
November 3, 2010
While it's convincing as a political thriller, Fair Game is, in some ways, actually more intriguing as an examination of a marriage under pressure, the kind none of us could possibly imagine
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
November 3, 2010
Fair Game gets you riled up all over again at a deeply unpatriotic abuse of power.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Rex Reed
New York Observer
November 3, 2010
Clears up the murky facts and shines a klieg light on the dark, shadowy corridors of the George Bush White House. The story takes on a vital new importance.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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David Fear
Time Out
November 3, 2010
To reduce their story to a handwringer for housewives that's laden with protest-sign sloganeering seems, frankly, unfair.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Nick Pinkerton
Village Voice
November 2, 2010
The film's assertion of Plame and Wilson as real people rather than characters consists mostly of draining them of anything compelling.
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Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com
November 2, 2010
Nearly the equal of All the Presidents Men as a riveting procedural, even though we know the outcome.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
November 1, 2010
Exposed, abandoned, branded as traitors, the Wilsons finally have no choice but to tell their story, the latest chapter of which is this potent Hollywood melodrama starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts.
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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
October 15, 2010
The riveting, flesh-and-blood story behind the headlines.
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
September 30, 2010
A triumph on all counts.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Justin Chang
Variety
July 6, 2010
Fair Game serves up impeccable politics with a bit too much righteous outrage and not quite enough solid drama.