Fair Game (2010)
★ ★ out of 5
Directed by Doug Liman
Starring Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame
Sean Penn as Joe Wilson
Valerie Plame is a CIA operative whose husband writes an article in the New York Times, criticizing the Bush administration, and the war in Iraq.
Fair Game is one of the most dull spy movies I have ever seen. I understand that real life spy work is not like a James Bond film at all times, and this is based on a true story, but that doesn’t mean that it can be excused for being so uninteresting. It’s an interesting story that’s suited for a magazine article, “my fight with the Bush administration” or something like that, but as a feature length film, it does not work. Fair Game tells the story of Valerie Plame, a covert operative in the CIA who sent her husband to check out some alleged uranium mines in Niger, and returned to say that nothing is there, only to have the government put out a report that Niger had sold uranium from these fields to Saddam Hussein. So he writes a controversial article in the New York Times, which leads the government to reveal his wife’s identity, and leads to Sean Penn giving a bunch of political speeches about how much the Bush administration sucks. This movie is not a thriller, this is not a spy movie, this is not a military intelligence thriller about how wrong we were in going into Iraq. This is a movie that is just one huge political message of “fuck George Bush.” I agree with the political messages, and I think George Bush sucks, but seriously, I’m not watching your film so that you can tell me exactly how much George Bush sucks. I want a story, compelling characters, interesting filmmaking techniques. I want to watch Sean Penn perform, not yell about his actual real life political views. I have no problem if a film has political messages, that’s completely fine by me, but I definitely do not like when the only thing a film has to say are political slander, and the film only exists as a piece of hate mail to someone. Aside from that, Fair Game does nothing interesting in its filmmaking, it plays it very safe, the camera angles are very ordinary, the lighting is a typical “we’ll make this look dark so that it looks gritty,” type thing, the editing is passable and nothing more. I will say however, that Naomi Watts does quite a great job in this film. I was impressed with her performance, however, it wasn’t portrayed as a lead role, even though this is a biopic about Valerie Plame, she seemed to be the supporting character to Sean Penn’s politics.