welcome to lobos reviews

title image


Movie Review: Fair Game

Alternate Title: With Malice Towards All

Story: I keep a running list of stories that make my head explode. The real life nightmare of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame by members of the Bush Administration in 2003 ranks high on that list. Deftly directed by Doug Liman and written by brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth it is based on the books The Politics of Truth, by Joseph Wilson, and Fair Game, by Valerie Plame Wilson.

The story is not old but since almost no one really got punished for this injustice it will soon be but a faded memory. Even though justice was not served, there is now a celluloid record of the misdeeds that took place in the run up to the Iraq War.

In a nutshell, Plame was a covert operative for the CIA. Her husband, Joe Wilson, was an Ambassador during the Clinton administration. Before the start of the Iraq War the CIA tried to confirm the rumors of Saddam Hussein's WMD program. Joe Wilson was sent on a fact finding mission to Africa to seek the truth. His report back to the CIA was that Iraq had not bought yellow cake to further their WMD program. When President Bush stated in his State of the Union speech that “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" Joe Wilson decided to go public with his version of the truth in an opinion piece in the New York Times. Shortly after that, Valerie Plame was outed as a CIA agent.

This film spends about an hour getting to this point and even though you know what is about the happen it is still thrilling film making. The balance of the film addresses how Plame and Wilson were maligned, how it affected their marriage, their life, their children and what they did to cope with this life changing event.

This is a fine film worthy of your time. Will it get you angry? Absolutely - join the club.

Check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpMGQgXbOgA

Acting: Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame Wilson was understated, strong and totally believable.Sean Penn as Joseph Wilson did his usual terrific job. A fine supporting cast including: Noah Emmerich (Bill), Bruce McGill (Jim Pavitt), David Andrews (I. Lewis Libby Jr.), Tim Griffin (Paul), Liraz Charhi (Dr. Zahraa), Khaled Nabawy (Hamed) and Sam Shepard (Sam Plame).

Trivia: Director Doug Liman's father, Arthur L. Liman, was one of the prosecutors in the Iran-Contra Affair. Doug Liman struck gold with the Bourne series. Valerie Elise Plame was born on April 19, 1963, on Elmendorf Air Force Base, in Anchorage, Alaska, to Diane and Samuel Plame. Plame's paternal great-grandfather was a rabbi who emigrated from Ukraine; the original family surname was "Plamevotski." His son, her Jewish grandfather, Samuel Plame, Jr., married a non-Jewish descendent of President Andrew Jackson. The family sat shiva for him, and Valerie’s father, Sam Plame III, raised his daughter as a Protestant. In 2003, when the scandal broke, Leon, a relative from the Plamevotski side of the family, made contact with Valerie, and that spring Valerie and Joe celebrated their first seder with family.

Predilection: I have been interested in this story since the day it broke (and have been outraged about it).

Critters: Goats and water buffalo

Food: Chinese takeout

Sex Spectrum: No sex - just dirty politics

Blatant Product Placement: Rolling Rock

Soundtrack: I did not notice, sorry.

Opening Titles: All credits are at the end. Stay to watch the real Valerie Plame as she begins her testimony before Congress.

Theater Audience: Crowded for an early Veteran's Day showing.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: I squirmed at the run up to the war.

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout.

Predictability Level: If you know the story, there are no surprises.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Probably not.

Big Screen or Rental: Go for the big screen. Stories like this should not go unnoticed.

Length: Under two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 8