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Kill the Messenger (2014)

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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 ... See full summary »

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2,825 ( 1,490)
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ronald J. Quail
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Quail's Girlfriend
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L.A. Sheriff
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DEA Agent
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Bob
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Ian Webb
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Eric Webb
Parker Douglas ...
Christine Webb
Kai Schmoll ...
Sacramento Journalist
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Rich Kline (as Josh Close)
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Coral Baca
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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:

How the CIA's crack-cocaine controversy destroyed journalist Gary Webb See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

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Details

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Release Date:

9 October 2014 (Hungary)  »

Also Known As:

Secret d'état  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$941,809 (USA) (10 October 2014)

Gross:

$2,445,646 (USA) (5 December 2014)
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| (archive footage)| (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As the film progresses, Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner)'s increasing isolation is subtly conveyed. "I'd say that Michael is drawn to stories of outsiders," said Oliver Platt, who is cast as Mercury News executive editor Jerry Ceppos. "He takes you up close to complicated people, people who get themselves into rough spots. There is a lot of compassion in his storytelling, and in the stories he chooses to tell." Director Michael Cuesta remarked: "I've always been drawn to difficult subject matter or, as some put it, dark stories. I just find that the stories that are harder to take are the ones that are the most healing and illuminating; I'm always looking for that light in the dark. As a filmmaker, if you're going to spend two years of your life on telling one story, it better be worth the time and heartache that goes into making a movie." In telling those stories," he's a very generous filmmaker," commented producer Naomi Despres. "Michael is open and communicative with his cast and crew. He has a clear vision of the film he wants to make, and with his original background in photography he always knows what he wants to convey visually. But he also holds a deep sensitivity for character." See more »

Goofs

When Garry calls Coral for the first time, he alternates holding the telephone receiver with his left hand, right hand, or against his shoulder. There are multiple instances during the conversation where two hands are visible on the table, as he is taking notes, followed by quick cuts to him holding the phone with his hand with insufficient time to have raised it up from the table. 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 ...
[...]
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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 Kill the Messenger: The All-Star Cast (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Street Legal (The Face of the Crowd)
Written by Nathan Johnson
Performed by The Cinematic Underground
Courtesy of Choplogic Music
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User Reviews

 
Superb acting,writing & three interwoven themes: government corruption, whistle blower retaliation, rare integrity
13 October 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I drove 140 miles, round trip, in foreboding weather, to attend the nearest U.S. opening.

It was well worth it.

First some context.

I've freelanced for decades, including during a war, successfully exposed major governmental corruption, weathered concerted retaliation and have been regularly appalled at the weakness of corporate, bureaucratic and political weasels who abandoned ideals, professionalism and integrity, "going along to get along." I was aware of Webb's writing and vilification at the time they occurred, in the late '90s, but for over 50 years I had a front row seat for even pre-Nixonian "drug wars" through the "crack epidemic," genocidal American imperialism, and the treatment of many other reporters who dared challenge the status quo, who had the courage to painfully examine the quaint and naive notion of collective national decency.

Webb's story, so artfully recounted and performed, was unfortunately true. He was accused of distorting the actuality of Reagan-era hypocrisy, but his reporting was accurate. He never accused the CIA of intentionally destroying the social fabric of minority communities, but made it clear that Harlem and Watts and Chicago's South Side were victims of "collateral damage," the inevitable consequences of the abandonment of any pretense of morality ostensibly possessed by the Reagan administration.

Indeed, spurred by new information about the practice of questionable property seizures, Webb had once again picked at the scab covering the decade-old, gangrenous infestation of our government, later well described by Robert Parry in his October 2004 Salon piece, "How Kerry exposed the Contra-cocaine scandal." To get the story, Webb had exposed himself to blood curdling danger, both at his own home in the U.S. and on the scene, in Central America.

Perhaps the worst betrayal of public trust by this film is depicted in recapitulation of the collective response of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, after being pressured by the CIA and the State Department. The papers' responded with hyperactive involvement in the personal destruction of Webb's reporting, reputation and life. Previously. the same papers, pressured by Reagan administration officials, buried Senator John Kerry's investigation, and shared subsequent malfeasance in their facilitating the Bush/Cheney administration's illegal and genocidal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The NY Times and Post had some odious history themselves. Reporters Ray Bonner and Alma Guillermoprieto were reassigned to boring beats after their courageous exposure of the incredibly savage El Mozote Massacre in El Salvador.

There, the U.S. trained, funded and armed Atlacatl Battalion murdered almost a thousand peasants, largely neutral evangelical Protestants, and mostly women and children, on December 11, 1981. Stanley Miesler's El Mozote Case Study, published in the Columbia Journalism Review, exhaustively documented their fates.

This film captured all those similar disgraceful elements. It needs to be seen by a wider audience just as it would be wise to make "Dr. Strangelove" part of a core curriculum in the formal education of American adolescents.


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