Kill the Messenger


Journalistic drama meets ethics thriller starring Jeremy Renner Discuss this article

To use the parlance of journalism, Kill the Messenger buries the lead: We first spend time – not wasted, if not especially fresh – getting to know impassioned Bay Area writer Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), a real-life crusader for the San Jose Mercury News during the mid-’90s. After publishing a DEA-drug-seizing exposé, Webb finds himself drawn into a larger story involving Nicaraguan Contras, the CIA and a wider drug epidemic.

It’s an explosive find, leading Webb to stroke his goatee, crank up the Clash’s ‘Know Your Rights’ on vinyl, and hammer out a three-part 1996 story titled Dark Alliance, one that became an early example of the internet’s viral impact.

It’s here that Michael Cuesta’s earnest drama becomes a wholly more interesting ethics thriller à la The Insider, as Webb’s research is slowly debunked by embarrassed traditional newspapers, his family unravels, and the guy’s spirit fades. Renner is magnificent in these latter scenes, reduced from cock of the walk to besieged paranoiac, and you wish the movie gave him more Pacino-worthy moments to rage against his spineless colleagues. Seeing as how Kill the Messenger comes down firmly on the side of Webb’s truth, it’s unfortunate that his discoveries are only confirmed via the end credits. Missing from the action, too, is the merest hint of our hero’s demise by suicide in 2004. These aspects should have been better showcased; as is, it’s not the whole story.

By Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out Doha,

Kill the Messenger

  • Duration: 112
  • Released: Thu, 11 Dec
  • Classification: 15+
  • Language: English
  • Director: Michael Cuesta
  • Stars: Jeremy Renner, Robert Patrick, Jena Sims

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