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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Accurate, impressive portrayal pulls no punches

By Adam Dodson/reporter

Kill The Messenger is a film about one of the most important, most unknown scoops in American history.

The Michael Cuesta picture is based on a series of articles and a subsequent book, Dark Alliance, by reporter Gary Webb.

His stories, which covered government complicity in the illegal drug trade, made Woodward and Bernstein’s expose on the Watergate break-in look like a fluff piece.

In the reality-based film Kill the Messenger, Jeremy Renner portrays journalist Gary Webb, who uncovers the American government’s involvement in illegal drug trade. Photo courtesy Focus Features
In the reality-based film Kill the Messenger, Jeremy Renner portrays journalist Gary Webb, who uncovers the American government’s involvement in illegal drug trade. Photo courtesy Focus Features

In the early ’80s, the Reagan administration couldn’t get Congress to fund the Contra movement in Nicaragua to depose the left-leaning Sandinista government. The CIA saw this as only a minor hang-up.

Rather than give up on its goal to install a new regime in the Central American country, it helped finance the Contras through other means — complicity in the trafficking of illegal drugs into the U.S. Webb tied the agency to the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles and other cities. But his work was highly criticized by the mainstream press, and his own newspaper printed a retraction.

To encapsulate a tale as far-reaching in its implications as Webb’s without pulling any punches while managing to give a meaningful glimpse into the lives of him and his family in less than two hours is a testament to the filmmaker’s skills.

Jeremy Renner’s portrayal of Webb is nearly flawless — impressive in how he captures the subtle stoicism of Webb’s personality. Always the cool customer, Webb didn’t have the most demonstrative or charismatic personality. For Renner to bring Webb’s hardened sincerity across so accurately is remarkable and Oscar-worthy. The rest of the veteran cast is also thoroughly believable.

Without a doubt, Webb was a model of unflinching bravery and journalistic integrity. The world would benefit immensely from as many more journalists as possible having even half the fearlessness of Mr. Webb. A tip of the hat to Renner for his courage as a big-time actor with plenty to lose to take on a project like this.

It’s almost the public’s civic duty to see this film.

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