Thriller based on a true story, starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts
The CIA leak that effectively ended CIA operative Valerie Plame’s career, and the subsequent fallout that revealed a line of corruption leading all the way from Republican low-lives Karl Rove and 'Scooter' Libby to the Whitehouse, hardly has the raw tragedy of our own Kelly affair, but it’s still a fascinating modern morality tale and in director Doug Liman’s hands makes for a serviceable political thriller.
The film begins in 2002 when Plame (played with a bloodless austerity by Naomi Watts) is involved in garnering evidence about Iraq’s alleged uranium enrichment programme and weapons of mass destruction (of which there was no evidence). Unable to give Bush Jr’s neo-cons the information they want to hear and resolutely standing in the way of them fabricating their own, she soon finds herself outed as a CIA agent and so the process of vindication starts. Leading the counter charge is Plame’s dogmatic, slightly unhinged ex-Democrat senator husband Joe Wilson, played with a righteous menace by Sean Penn.
Tautly if clinically directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr & Mrs Smith) and well performed by all concerned, Fair Game is slightly derailed by Jez and John Butterworth’s tonally schizophrenic screenplay, which lurches from slick secret service speak to big emotive speeches that underline just how far Penn’s Wilson will go for the woman and children he loves.
General release from Friday 11 March.