6.9/10
43,742
132 user 170 critic

Kill the Messenger (2014)

Trailer
2:19 | Trailer
Journalist Gary Webb, California 1996, started investigating CIA's role in the 1980s in getting crack cocaine to the black part of LA to get money and weapons to the Contras/freedom fighters in Nicaragua.

Director:

Michael Cuesta

Writers:

Peter Landesman, Gary Webb (book) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
4,414 ( 183)
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Renner ... Gary Webb
Robert Patrick ... Ronald J. Quail
Jena Sims ... Quail's Girlfriend
Robert Pralgo ... LA Sheriff
Hajji Golightly Hajji Golightly ... DEA Agent
Ted Huckabee ... Bob
Mary Elizabeth Winstead ... Anna Simons
Lucas Hedges ... Ian Webb
Rosemarie DeWitt ... Sue Webb
Matt Lintz ... Eric Webb
Parker Douglas Parker Douglas ... Christine Webb
Kai Schmoll Kai Schmoll ... Sacramento Journalist
Joshua Close ... Rich Kline (as Josh Close)
Paz Vega ... Coral Baca
Aaron Farb ... Rafael Cornejo
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Storyline

Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb. The film takes place in the mid-1990s, when Webb uncovered the CIA's past role in importing huge amounts of cocaine into the U.S. that was aggressively sold in ghettos across the country to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras' rebel army. Despite enormous pressure not to, Webb chose to pursue the story and went public with his evidence, publishing the series "Dark Alliance". As a result he experienced a vicious smear campaign fueled by the CIA. At that point Webb found himself defending his integrity, his family, and his life. Written by Milena Joy Morris

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Based on a story that needs to be told. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Portraying 'Freeway' Ricky Ross (Michael Kenneth Williams)'s lawyer Alan Fenster, actor Tim Blake Nelson grounded his performance in a way that allowed the humor to play without detracting from the weight of the character, and clearly he had fun playing off star Jeremy Renner. Nelson confirmed: "Getting to act opposite Jeremy under Michael Cuesta's direction was what attracted me to this project, and I loved Peter Landesman's script, which tells a story you haven't heard in a lean, unsentimental, and unpredictable way. The key to Fenster, for me, is he's cynical about the system and yet he also really believes that even the most manifestly nefarious character deserves a day in court." See more »

Goofs

The first time Gary visits Nicaragua there is a shot of one of the streets, there you can see the logo of the telecommunications company Claro, which did not exist until 2003 and didn't arrive to Nicaragua until 2006. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Richard Nixon: Public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.
Gerald Ford: For nearly a year, I have been devoting increasing attention to a problem which strikes at the very heart of our national well-being: Drug abuse.
Jimmy Carter: I did not condone any drug abuse, and we'll do everything possible to reduce this serious threat to our society.
Ronald Reagan: Drugs are menacing our society. They're threatening our values and undercutting...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

Just before the closing credits, there is a short video showing the real Gary Webb at home with his children. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Crack in America (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Te Recuerdas
Written and Performed by Daniel Indart
Courtesy of LMS Records
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User Reviews

 
An Explosive Exposé Important Enough To Suppress
17 November 2014 | by theSachaHallSee all my reviews

The longer I cogitate on Michael Cuesta's KILL THE MESSENGER, the more I realise just how unobtrusively compelling this film truly is.

Inspired by the life of Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) and his 'Dark Alliance' exposé on the explosion of crack cocaine in the United States (which inevitably ruined his career), the film draws attention to the power and reach of fourth and fifth estate journalism and to the subjective objectivism of its gatekeepers.

Having said all that, if you take the time to reach beyond this controversial surface story and embrace Sean Bobbitt's intimate framing and selective foci, you'll discover Gary; a doggedly passionate and humanly flawed individual whose good intention to report a story 'just too true to tell' results in an overwhelmingly biased and unfair challenge on his credibility and integrity with devastating consequences.

Renner's (THE HURT LOCK, THE BOURNE LEGACY) performance is captivating in its subtlety; allowing momentary characters including Norwin Meneses (Andy Garcia), Fred Weil (Michael Sheen) and Jerry Ceppos (Oliver Platt) to drive the story's factual elements in a similar manner experienced by Webb. The use of medium and close-up shots and oscillating lighting gives you a bird's eye view to Renner's struggles as the voraciously shocking professional and personal smear campaign takes its toll. Renner becomes more unashamedly haggard with dwindling moments of indignation on screen at each roadblock. It may also explain why Cuesta opted to gloss over the pivotal points of this sad story and tie it up in Webb's panegyric acceptance speech and closing title card.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this film and would recommend that you take some time out to see it. Sure it has its flaws –but so does Gary Webb and the story itself - but that's why it works. As Webb said on reflection 'The reason I'd enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn't been, as I'd assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job. The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn't written anything important enough to suppress'.

You can catch me at my handle and at The Hollywood News.


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Details

Official Sites:

Official Site | Production Notes | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 October 2014 (Hungary) See more »

Also Known As:

Kill the Messenger See more »

Filming Locations:

Atlanta, Georgia, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$941,809, 12 October 2014

Gross USA:

$2,450,846

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,218,973
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat

Color:

Color | Color (archive footage)| Black and White (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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