Kill the Messenger (2014) - Rotten Tomatoes

Kill the Messenger (2014)



Critic Consensus: Kill the Messenger's potent fury over the tale of its real-life subject overrides its factual inaccuracies and occasional narrative stumbles.

Movie Info

Two-time Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner ("The Bourne Legacy") leads an all-star cast in a dramatic thriller based on the remarkable true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb. Webb stumbles onto a story which leads to the shady origins of the men who started the crack epidemic on the nation's streets...and further alleges that the CIA was aware of major dealers who were smuggling cocaine into the U.S., and using the profits to arm rebels fighting in Nicaragua. Despite warnings from drug kingpins and CIA operatives to stop his investigation, Webb keeps digging to uncover a conspiracy with explosive implications. His journey takes him from the prisons of California to the villages of Nicaragua to the highest corridors of power in Washington, D.C. - and draws the kind of attention that threatens not just his career, but his family and his life. (c) Focusmore
Rating: R (for language and drug content)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Peter Landesman, Gary Webb, Nick Schou, Gary Webb
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 10, 2015
Box Office: $2.4M
Focus Features - Official Site


Jeremy Renner
as Gary Webb
Ray Liotta
as John Cullen
Tim Blake Nelson
as Alan Fenster
Paz Vega
as Coral Baca
Michael Sheen
as Fred Weil
Robert Patrick
as Ronald J. Quail
Barry Pepper
as Russell Dodson
Andy Garcia
as Norwin Meneses
Joshua Close
as Rich Kline
Oliver Platt
as Jerry Ceppos
Jena Sims
as Quail's Girlfriend
Robert Pralgo
as L.A. Sheriff
Hajji Golightly
as DEA Agent
Lucas Hedges
as Ian Webb
Matthew Lintz
as Eric Webb
Douglas Parker
as Christine Webb
Kai Schmoll
as Sacramento Journalis...
Aaron Farb
as Rafael Cornejo
Tom Jordan
as San Francisco Judge
Clay Edmond Kraski
as DEA Agent Jones
Yul Vázquez
as Danilo Blandon
Jen Harper
as Ricky Ross Trial Jud...
Brett Rice
as Hansjorg Baier
Gil Bellows
as DEA Agent Miller
Steve Coulter
as Anonymous Agent
Kenny Alfonso
as Marc Mansfield
Dan Futterman
as Leo Wolinsky
Susan Walters
as Los Angeles Times Ed...
Richard Schiff
as Richard Zuckerman
David de Vries
as Washington Post Edit...
David Garver
as Doug Farah
Rhoda Griffis
as Female Anchor
Andrew Masset
as San Jose Mercury New...
Kevin Harrison
as Man in Suit
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Kill the Messenger

Critic Reviews for Kill the Messenger

All Critics (121) | Top Critics (32)

The script by former journalist Peter Landesman, who recently directed the medical drama Concussion, does a good job of simplifying a complex real-life chain of events.

Full Review… | April 6, 2016
South China Morning Post

The film doesn't demand that you now respect Webb or sing his praises, but it does ask you to look at the cracks in that tranquil façade, and to keep looking, no matter how much it seems to fracture.

Full Review… | February 26, 2016
The Film Stage

The first half of the movie captivates as it runs through his impressive investigation. But the fallout from Webb's scoop is less enthralling and the story loses traction as it focuses on his crumbling personal life.

Full Review… | December 29, 2015
The Sun (UK)

The muddled movie contains all the elements of a top-notch muckraker, deployed erratically and to increasingly diminished returns.

Full Review… | May 12, 2015
New England Movies Weekly

It's sporadically gripping but ultimately rather frustrating fare, leaving us intrigued enough by the conspiracy-theory backstory to want hard documentary evidence rather than mere dramatic licence.

Full Review… | March 8, 2015
Observer (UK)

Jeremy Renner is on terrific form... but the rest of the movie doesn't quite live up to his impressively nuanced performance.

Full Review… | March 7, 2015
Movie Talk

Audience Reviews for Kill the Messenger


After an engaging first half that trusts our ability to put together the details of this whole affair as we follow its character, this strong political drama is sadly weakened by some annoying clichés, including that of him becoming an "obsessed man who moves away from his family."

Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Could have been far better had they focused more on the investigative journalism than Webb's family life. It sort of distracts when it turns from a taut thriller to a humdrum family drama. Agreed that some footage ought to be given to that part, but it should have been quite limited. Maybe here too, the editor is to be blamed!!

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


Kill the Messenger is an interesting tale in two parts. The first half recounts Webb's discovering the evidence. The second half depicts the aftermath of that story. What makes this so watchable is Jeremy Renner's portrayal of newspaper reporter Gary Webb. He is really good at getting the audience to like him. We feel the unbearable tension that our hero endures as he is threatened directly and indirectly. The impending sense of doom never seems very far way. We share in his growing fear for his own safety amidst his desire to expose the truth. The best scenes concern him and his family. In particular Rosemarie DeWitt as his wife and Lucas Hedges as his son, provide another facet that gives Gary Webb more depth. They imbue his character with flaws that are somewhat unexpected. After all, we have seen this before. All the President's Men is an example of the crusading journalist railing against the system. The difference however is where Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were celebrated as heroes at the time, Gary Webb was given a much different reception.

Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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