Kudos to Jeremy Renner for producing and starring in this riveting adaptatoin of Nick Schou's _Kill_the_Messenger_ and Gary Webb's _Dark_Alliance_. It's a story about a hero's quest to tell a truth to the people, too truthful to be told, and the professonal and personal tolls that were taken as a result.
This film is an entertainment, not a documentary, but it hews close enough to the essential truths about Webb, the man, and his reportage on the links between the CIA, Nicaraguan "contras" and the importation of drugs and weapons into the US from Latin America.
That said, don't watch any film and pretend to learn history. Study history, for its own sake, and then allow that knowledge to inform your enjoyment of said film. That's where I'm coming from with my high praise for this film, based on a true story.
We all know, today, with 20-20 hindsight and subsequent, eventual corroborations that what Webb wrote about money for drugs to fund the contras, with CIA cover, if not complicity, was true. It was an ugly and inconvenient truth that put the San Jose Mercury News on the map as a newspaper of national and international standing. A truth that was then viciously spun by government and warped by rival corporate media into a weapon that ultimately destroyed Webb's career as a journalist and, finally, his life.
For me, the film passes the smell test to claim to be based on a true story.
One thing that I remember from then is how the SJ Mercury News luridly over-hyped Webb's story on its pages and then later threw Webb under the bus, caving into the official-sources-fueled professional retaliation by the LA Times, Washington Post and NY Times, who were all, embarassingly, scooped by Webb.
Webb, in fact, was following in the footsteps of an earlier "messenger," Robert Perry, who was eventually forced out of the Associated Press for attampting to cover the same story.
The film sports a who's-who of co-stars and is tastefully directed by Michael Cuesta. The extras on disc are worthwhile.
Not enough people got to see this film during its theatrical run. I sure didn't, but now I have remedied that.