This film is actually more about the subtitle "The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" than it is about the actual "Client9" incident. The film watches Spitzer's decade of 'fighting the good fight' while he accumulates a number of powerful enemies, then the film eventually points the dirty end of the Client9 stick at those enemies as they set out upon revenge, set out upon discovering and spoon-feeding the mass-media something - anything - that would destroy Spitzer.
I was led to watch this film after seeing Spitzer's interviews within "Inside Job" (2010), where it became clear that Spitzer, "The Sheriff of Wall Street," had throughout the early-2000s been trying to prosecute and neutralize many of the rogue companies and CEOs that eventually caused (and profited from) The Great Recession. In that sense, these two films make an excellent set of bookends.
The film devotes Act I to chronicling Spitzer's ascent as State Attorney General, accomplished by successfully prosecuting (and/or trying-in-public) a series of high-profile, highly-unethical Wall Street perps. That includes his gnawing on the heels of Hank Greenberg, CEO of AIG, who was cooking the books to hide the fact that AIG couldn't possibly meet its insurance obligations (Something American citizens saw all too plainly just a few years later when dead-broke AIG had to be bailed out with citizen tax dollars; AIG's premiums had simply been going out the back door as bonuses and executive perks.) Spitzer's outing of Greenberg earned the wrath of John Whitehead, Chairman of Goldman Sachs (aka "Government Sachs"). And when Spitzer prosecuted Ken Langone, the Director of the New York Stock Exchange, Spitzer bagged yet another powerful life-long enemy.
Act II, just as in many a Shakespearian play, begins to reveal Spitzer, the flawed man. It details Spitzer's brief time as Governor. Spitzer thought he had walloped Wall Street due to his combative style, but really it was the carefully crafted legal cases that delivered the KOs. And those cases only resulted in CEO replacements and fines levied, not really much more than the occasional cost of doing unethical business. Now as Governor Spitzer he comes out swinging just as before, but doesn't realize that Albany politics can't be settled up as easily with court filings. Corporations can pay the price and move on; politicians can't ... so they'll be pushing back hard. Spitzer is punching with even emptier gloves than the gloves he wore on Wall Street. And this time he's picking fights with fighters. When Spitzer jabs NY Republican Senate Leader Joe Bruno by telling him he's messing with "a f**kin' steamroller" then outs him for misusing state travel monies, well Spitzer only scores his own worst enemy.
Act III pretty successfully argues that Bruno held pow-wows with Greenberg, Whitehead & Langone to plan Spitzer's castration. Bruno knew and hired colorful and shady Roger Stone, a political hitman who cut his teeth working inside Nixon's CREEP. But Stone didn't actually deliver much in the way of dirty tricks. Then Whitehead used his ties to the U.S. Government to set an army of FBI agents upon a Spitzer witch-hunt, systematically pawing over every drop of data on the man. Odd cash transactions lead them into the Client9 investigation. The execution of that investigation makes plain that its sole purpose was to shipwreck Spitzer. Once the FBI softened up everyone so that they would spill their guts about Spitzer, it simply fed a sufficient trail of bread-crumbs - including everyone's phone numbers and home addresses - to the mass-media pigeons all too eager to feed on such gossip. Game, set, match.
Resting atop all this narrative is the slow reveal of the inner nature of Spitzer, the tragic hero. In fact, he himself compares his odyssey to that of Icarus. The sequence of Spitzer's interviews lays bare the man's keen intellect, his noble intents, his manipulative language as well as his character flaws. In this light, the film is as eternal and tragic as any eternal Greek tragedy.
RECOMMENDATION: Marries well to "Inside Job." The viewer learns even more about the tons of illegal activities that triggered the 2008 Banking Crisis and the Great Recession. And the viewer also learns the names of even more individuals who caused it, got rich off it, and who the American Government has simply let walk away from their huge crimes scot-free.