The Pentagon Papers (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Pentagon Papers (2003)

The Pentagon Papers (2003)

The Pentagon Papers





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Movie Info

It was certainly no coincidence that the made-for-cable historical film The Pentagon Papers was timed for released just when America was poised to wrestle with the question as to whether or not the President had the right to declare war on Iraq without full congressional and/or United Nations approval. The film covers several decades in the life of Harvard graduate Daniel Ellsberg (James Spader), who as a Pentagon official during two presidential administrations regards himself as patriotic as the next fellow. According to the unabashedly slanted teleplay by Jason Horwitch, it is this sense of patriotism that compels Ellsberg to release a 7,000-page classified report to The New York Times and The Washington Post, revealing that the official story of America's "success" in Vietnam was both exaggerated and distorted, and that the public has been egregiously misled for years. As a result of this act, Ellsberg, whose family life has already been destroyed by his devotion to his work, faces charges of treason from the Nixon administration. Ironically, it is Nixon's reaction to Ellsberg's security breach which leads him to create his team of gap-stopping "plumbers" -- who would of course bring about the President's downfall with the Watergate scandal. Surprisingly, The Pentagon Papers premiered March 9, 2003, over the FX network, a cable service owned by the markedly conservative Rupert Murdoch.more
Rating: R (for some war images and brief sexuality)
Genre: Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Jason Horwitch
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 17, 2004
City Entertainment


James Spader
as Daniel Ellsberg
Paul Giamatti
as Anthony Russo
Claire Forlani
as Patricia Marx
Alan Arkin
as Harry Rowen
Kenneth Welsh
as John McNaughton
Hannah Lochner
as Mary Ellsberg
Jonas Chernick
as Neil Sheehan
Mark Benesh
as Leonard Compson III
Maria Del Mar
as Carol Ellsberg
Michael Stevens
as Russo's Lawyer
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Pentagon Papers

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Audience Reviews for The Pentagon Papers

The limitations of its production are felt (made-for-TV, small budget) with overly brief characterizations and the often rushed scenes, but the true story is a timely and powerful one, and the film does a pretty good job covering the impact of what Ellsberg did, and the risks he was taking. James Spader really carried the film with his performance, and was helped by the always reliable and engaging Paul Giamatti.

3/5 Stars

Jeffrey Meyers
Jeffrey Meyers

Super Reviewer


So relevant for 2008. A kind of narrative that is a step away from being a docudrama -- explains the Pentagon Papers, which preceded Watergate, and how and why these events happened. James Slater is young and is the same as he is on Boston Legal.

Fascinating story about the guy that leaked the papers and his moral dilemma and what would seem obvious today.

Bonney Jackson

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