Kill the Messenger

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 128


Audience Score

User Ratings: 16,578
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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) Focus


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 Journalist
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 Judge
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 Editor
Richard Schiff
as Richard Zuckerman
David de Vries
as Washington Post Editor
David Garver
as Doug Farah
Rhoda Griffis
as Female Anchor
Andrew Masset
as San Jose Mercury News Editor
Kevin Harrison
as Man in Suit
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News & Interviews for Kill the Messenger

Critic Reviews for Kill the Messenger

All Critics (128) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (99) | Rotten (29)

  • Kill the Messenger is earnest and righteous but almost entirely lacking in thrills.

    Mar 6, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • It's hard to look away as his world unwinds.

    Mar 6, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Not since 2003's Shattered Glass has the journalistic pursuit of truth been presented on screen as such a mortally serious matter of honour.

    Mar 5, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Mike McCahill

    Top Critic
  • Solid, though director Michael Cuesta doesn't have the journalistic balls of his subject.

    Mar 5, 2015 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Renner brings a dogged yet ebullient quality to Webb. It's a terrific, wound-up yet thoughtful performance that conveys a sense of conviction with an undercurrent of fragility.

    Oct 29, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Kill the Messenger does a credible if not dazzling job. In fact, the movie is a lot like the reporting that inspired it: a good introduction to a diabolically tangled tale.

    Oct 14, 2014 | Full Review…

    Mark Jenkins

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Kill the Messenger

  • Aug 15, 2017
    Kill The Messenger is an intelligent investigative drama that will have you hooked from the start. Gary Webb, a journalist for a smallish news agency, stumbles upon a story which proves the CIA used cocaine profits from Central American drug smugglers to fund the Contra rebels. Never heard about it? Me neither, and in fact when the full report was published it was pushed aside by a scandal involving Bill Clinton. So, nearly a decade later, it's time to explore this intriguing story and fortunately this film is absolutely compelling. Yes, the film is about the CIA's involvement in Nicaragua, but beneath this is an individual who only desires to report the truth. Investigating a story with this much classification and secrecy results in the possibility of endangering both your career and family. But the biggest detriment, is to yourself. We see Gary Webb slowly degrade as the investigation takes its toll on him, he gradually becomes a broken man so transfixed on this job that he risks losing everything else. I found it to be utterly heartbreaking, yet rather relatable. This drama didn't need to include any thrills or chase sequences (in the fear that it becomes an action film), and yet director Michael Cuesta was bold enough to incorporate these tense pursuits. They worked. I was on edge. Why? Because Gary Webb was a well developed character. I felt for him and wanted him to succeed. This, for me, is Jeremy Renner's best performance. Forget about the supporting cast, this was his for the taking and he owned it. Emotional, physical and charismatic. Should've been nominated for more awards. The first half was a slow burner, but it picked up pace as soon as the story was established. The supporting cast were wasted, Winstead was probably the best out of them all but still underused. But due to a powerful central performance, this film was elevated to an enthralling level of intrigue. Oh, and the final screen texts detailing the aftermath? It crushed me inside. Gutted.
    Luke A Super Reviewer
  • Sep 11, 2015
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 15, 2015
    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 s Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2015
    Gripping, dramatic and well worth watching. This true story of the CIA using drugs to fund a war shows how far people will go, not only to bury the truth, but to fight for it.
    Ian W Super Reviewer

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