Kill the Messenger
In 1996, Gary Webb's San Jose Mercury-News report on the link between the Nicaraguan Contras, the CIA and the American crack epidemic caused an unprecedented institutional retaliation. On the surface, it makes a meaty film story, a globe-trotting tale of intrigue and corruption about a flawed but noble man who took on an unbeatable system when everyone told him to stand down. But director Michael Cuesta and screenwriter Peter Landesman are less interested in the messenger than the message. Their Gary Webb says things like “This is America!” and “I believe in due process!” As Webb, Jeremy Renner has the mustache, sunglasses, cigarettes, untucked shirt, journalistic passion, and devilish smirk, but he mostly talks and behaves like a character in a silly movie. It only shows how much more interesting an intelligent documentary about Webb would be than this weak and warmed-over biopic treatment.