Elusive Truth – Kill The Messenger [2014]

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October 16, 2014 by bck1402

I find it amazing that in watching shows, some characters take the lying bit really hard. Maybe it’s one of those things that is outside what I think of as normal human behaviour. Growing up, we are told never to lie, always tell the truth; but then we all lie and truth… Truth is subjective; often elusive.
“…what I told you was true… from a certain point of view.”
– Obi-Wan Kenobi, Return Of The Jedi
“Everybody lies.” 
– Dr. Gregory House,  House (TV)
kill_the_messenger_ver3As often as we are conditioned to tell the truth, just as often we are conditioned to lie. For any man out there, how often have you truthfully answered the question, “Do I look fat?” Especially when it comes from your better half? It’s an automatic, “No.” And it’s very often a lie. Let’s face it, women are equally adept at lying. These are there little white lies we tell to make others feel good or keep them safe. The same lies any government in the world would tell its people, because the people want to feel safe and protected under their government. Half the time, we really don’t want to know just what our government really gets up to, all in the effort to keep its people safe. This, inevitably, leads to secrets.
Within the movie, Kill The Messenger, there’s always talk of “the ends justify the means.” You have to do whatever it takes to achieve the desired outcome. In the cases where government is concerned, it often ends with the right hand not knowing what the left is up to, even if it’s the brain that gave out the instructions in the first place. In tracking a follow up lead on a story, Gary Webb (an excellent Jeremy Renner) turns over one stone too many and finds himself the story of a lifetime. That story, while controversial, isn’t the crux of the movie. Webb believes in his work and his duty to report the truth. All he has is his integrity. In order to obfuscate the matter at hand – the story he’s reporting – Webb finds himself targeted as the story, his integrity brought to question. His credibility comes under attack. Hence, the title of the movie.
In our modern media savvy environment, such character assassinations are becoming increasingly commonplace, especially in the political arena. It not that’s impossible it could happen to an average person, with the extensive use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networking tools at our disposal. Digging some kind of inflammatory information on anyone in this day and age can be done at the touch of a few buttons. Truth ultimately gets twisted and presented out of context, it becomes sensational. A distraction.
And we love our distractions, more than the truth. We seem to enjoy tearing down heroes and people of authority. The movie plays that on both levels; when Webb’s story first breaks and the public goes after the CIA, and in the second half when Webb becomes the story and the rest of the media – perhaps out of spite of being scooped on a huge story – circle like sharks. It is an interesting contrast between the two exposés that occur.
Movie-wise, it’s Renner’s show and he’s ably supported by some terrific character actors in small, some significant, parts. The director, Michael Cuesta, manages the pacing well, and the story, while mostly factual (it is based on a true accounting, after all), works well in ratcheting the tension where needed to keep a viewer’s attention. The ultimate inclusion of actual footage, including Webb’s home videos, just drives home the truth as it’s presented.
What you choose to believe, that’s up to you.
Stars Jeremy Renner, Rosemarie DeWitt,  Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt, Matthew Lintz with Robert Patrick, Paz Vega, Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta
Directed by Michael Cuesta
Rating: ****/5

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