Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama
Opens locally Friday, November 19th, 2010, Rated PG-13
Run Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Starring: Naomi Watts, Seann Penn, Noah Emmerich
Directed by Doug Liman (Swingers, Go, The Bourne Identity)
No, this is not a remake of the insufferable 1995 film of the same name starring model Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin. It is actually based on a true story, from the autobiography of real-life undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame (Watts). The story surrounds Plame and how her career was destroyed when her secret identity was exposed by a politically motivated press leak. Valerie leads an investigation into the existence of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) in Iraq. Her husband is diplomat Joe Wilson (Penn), who is drawn into the investigation. When the administration ignores his findings and uses the issue as one of the reasons to wage war, Joe writes a New York Times editorial outlining his conclusions.
Fair Game is an acceptable and interesting inside look at one of the worst time periods during the Bush Administration. It was a bit too procedural and came across much more like a made-for-TV biopic that might air on HBO. That's not really an insult, there are lots of good movies in the same vein that are shown on HBO (The Special Relationship comes to mind). But the big screen does nothing to make the story more notable.
Watts and Penn are both solid, as always, and we get to see the damage caused to their marriage, which does help to personalize the story. It creates characters we care about, made even more effective knowing that this really happened. Penn continues to carve out a wide range of roles to put in his stellar portfolio, but here he is more subdued than normal, playing the worried husband.
Fair Game was interesting to see, and I'm a big fan of director Doug Liman and the two main stars. It's just not a movie that sticks with you, or has any lasting effect. In a movie where the stakes are so high, and light is shed on some of the uglier side of government and politics, you would think the message would be more profound.
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