Fair Game Reviews
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.
WIlson is an ex diplomat who is assiged by his CIA spy wife (Naomi Watts, solid as usual) to investigate whether Saddam has ordered uranium in Africa for his supposed WMDs. When the verdict is negative, Wilson is shocked when Bush makes the discredited allegation on national TV, launching the war in Iraq. He writes an Op Ed piece in the NY Times about it and then both he and his wife are discredited, but her career at the CIA is destroyed.
The movie avoids going into very much emotional detail about the strains on the Wilsons' marriage, and any moral qualms that Wilson may have about what his self-righteous actions to hurt his family. That's the movie I would have liked to see. Still, it's got plenty going for it, and it's one of the more watchable Iraq films, all of which have been huge box office flops except Hurt Locker. Why is that?
CIA operative Valerie Plame discovers her identity is allegedly leaked by the government as payback for an op-ed article her husband wrote criticizing the Bush administration.
"Fair Game" is a taut, no-nonsense account of the outing of a CIA agent in the wake of 9/11 after she led an investigation that found no evidence of a weapons program in Iraq despite the White House's use of that threat as the basis for its invasion.
Naomi Watts plays Plame and Sean Penn plays Joe Wilson, Plame's husband and a former ambassador who came forward in the media about the bullying and corruption his family was being exposed to. Both give fierce, committed performances; in their hands, the film is as much a portrait of a marriage under stress as it is a rally cry against government irresponsibility and abuse.
"Fair Game" is not fair at all. It's at times almost ridiculously one sided, falling into hero worship of Plame and Wilson and demonizing the Bush administration (and particularly Scooter Libby and Karl Rove) to the point of caricature. But as always with "one against the government" stories, practically all we've heard about this controversy both as it played out at the time and since is what the government and the media have wanted us to hear, so it's refreshing to be one-sided in the opposite direction for a couple of hours.
This movie which is very political and intelligent didn't really impress me that much. It is very well made thus it bored me and didn't really move me in any way. Naomi Watts gives a a spellbinding performance as well as Sean Penn.
Valerie Plame is employed by the Central Intelligence Agency, a fact known outside the agency to no one except her husband and parents. She is an agent involved in a number of sensitive and sometimes dangerous covert operations overseas.
Her husband, Joseph C. Wilson, is a diplomat who most recently has served as a U.S. ambassador to Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe. Due to his extensive background, Wilson is approached by Plame's CIA colleagues to travel to Niger and glean information as to whether yellowcake uranium is being procured by Iraq for use in the construction of nuclear weasons. Wilson determines to his own satisfaction that it is not.
After military action is taken by George W. Bush, who justifies it in a 2003 State of the Union address by alluding to the uranium's use in building weapons of mass destruction, Wilson submits an op-ed piece to the New York Times claiming these reports to be categorically untrue.
Plame's status as a CIA agent is subsequently revealed in the media, the leak possibly coming from White House officials including the Vice President's chief of staff and national security adviser, Scooter Libby, in part to discredit her husband's allegation that the Bush administration had manipulated intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. As a result, Plame is instantly dismissed from the agency, leaving several of her delicate operations in limbo and creating a rift in her marriage.
Plame leaves her husband, further angered by his granting of television and print interviews, which expose them both to public condemnation and death threats. Wilson ultimately persuades her, however, that there is no other way to fight a power as great as that of the White House for citizens like them. Plame returns to him and testifies before a Congressional committee, while Libby is convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice and given a 30-month prison sentence, although President Bush commutes the jail time on Libby's behalf.
However, the second half isn't as adroit as its info-heavy precursor. Working together for the third time, Watts and Penn share a nuanced rapport which helps us stay the course when the John-Henry Butterworth's back-off from dissecting the extremely different reactions of a besieged wife and husband.
Fair Game takes the huge media storm of a few years ago surrounding the leaked identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, and focuses on the strain placed on her and her family by the intentional exposure of her identity by government officials in retaliation for her husband's infamous New York Times op-ed piece.
Movies based on actual, heavily politically-based events usually aren't my thing, but Naomi Watts as Valerie and Sean Penn as her husband really do an excellent job of conveying this serious, and at times troubling, story. Watts portrays Plame as an intelligent and capable woman who is easy to sympathize with. As she's effectively blocked out from her job at the C.I.A. and her personal life begins to swiftly unravel, she keeps a steely resolve that's wholly believable. And while Sean Penn doesn't have to stretch far for his character, he also makes him feel like a genuine person. Great acting from them both to compliment the solid script.
Anyone even casually interested in the Valerie Plame scandal should check this out, as it's a pretty darn good (and thought-provoking) adaptation of a dark time in our country's recent history.
If you like "Fair Game" definitely check out Rob Lurie's fictionalized take on these events in the film "Nothing But the Truth." It might be a fake story, but it's an incredible film in it's own right.
to me, this movie is like 2010 wall street, which just collects the has-beens and has-happeneds to pastiche into a picture to sell and retell the inside story over and over again to educate the audience about the truth which will never change the world. come on, war against iraque almost comes to an end (has it?), and bush is no longer president. so what's the point? he's eaten the cake and held as much power as he could for 8 years, and he's retired. so what could it possibly harm him or make a differences to all the damages done? same as cheney. the previledged still remains safe and sound and the deprived is still struggling. and watching a 88-min political movie could better off the world and keep the strong from bullying the weak? in the moment you could publicly discuss some once-controversial political or racist issue, it means it's already in the past and whatever you said won't make a difference. fair game is released in 2010, one decade after the 911, does that mean regrets over iraque is a popular topic now?
This is sad because "Fair Game" is one of the best American films of the year, and watching it is a thrilling experience. It tells the true story of Valerie Plame, the covert CIA officer whose life was endangered when her cover was blown by senior officials in the Bush Administration. The film is intelligent and serious but also fast-moving and dramatic. Naomi Watts portrays Ms. Plame, and Sean Penn plays her husband. Both provide under-stated, highly realistic performances that bring the Plame family to life in a vibrant way. The film gets slightly preachy at the end, but for the most part it is level-headed and fair, letting the facts speak for themselves.
Part of why "Fair Game" works so well is that the director, Doug Liman, is an expert in edge-of-your-seat drama. His previous films include "The Bourne Identity" (2002) and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" (2005). Here he brings all those entertainment talents to bear on a serious drama. The selection of Liman as director was an inspired choice on the part of the producers.
In addition to learning about the political ruthlessness of Washington, the viewer of "Fair Game" gets an unprecedented lesson in how the CIA functions. This is not only important, it surprisingly also is gripping cinema. I've always wondered what it must be like to work there, and what kinds of secrecy people live under. As an example, Plame's family (her husband and her parents) know that she works at the CIA, but that's all they know. They have no idea what she actually does. When she goes on international travel, which is often, she lies to her husband and says she's going to a city in the United States. Her friends are even more in the dark. They think she works at a venture capital outfit. When Plame is "outed" in the national media, it is fascinating to watch her friends confront her with their jaws hanging open. "Valerie, it says in the paper that you work for the CIA." One of them also asks in a frightened voice, "Have you killed people?" Plame comes clean about being a CIA officer for almost 20 years, but does not give them any more information.
Another aspect of the CIA life that is particularly tough is the knowledge that if your cover is blown, your entire family is in danger. As the mother of two small children, Plame knows this better than anyone. "Fair Game" doesn't get emotionally manipulative with regard to Plame's children, but it reminds us many times that Plame is a mother. Their safety cuts to the heart of what makes this Washington "scandal" so disturbing. "Fair Game" is must-see viewing for anyone who cares about current events and anyone who enjoys great movies.