Kill the Messenger

“San Jose Mercury News reporter Webb, spent his entire career believing in the value of searching for and then fearlessly reporting the truth. He doesn't yet believe what he's later told, that some stories are just too true to tell, that the truth may set you free but it can also ruin your life.

“The story Webb related in a series of articles he wrote for the Mercury News in 1996 under the headline "Dark Alliance" told a still-controversial tale that many people did not want to hear: that elements in the CIA made common cause with Central American drug dealers and that money that resulted from cocaine sales in the U.S. was used to arm the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua. Although the CIA itself confirmed, albeit years later, that this connection did in fact exist, journalists continue to argue about whether aspects of Webb's stories overreached.

“Made with the cooperation and support of Webb's family, "Kill the Messenger, directed by Michael Cuesta from a screenplay by Peter Landesman, is a pulpy, energetic film is a fast-moving and entertaining tale. It simultaneously applauds the nerve needed to take on the establishment and warns against the fierce vengeance those in power will take if you embarrass them and tread on their toes.

“"Messenger" is strongest when it deals with Webb's passion for the truth and his unstoppable quest to get the story. From beginning to end, the film is the beneficiary of a confident, convincing performance by Renner. He inhabits the character completely, digging into the role with the same won't-let-go fierceness Webb himself displayed when newsworthy information came his way.

“When the Mercury News publishes the "Dark Alliance" story in August 1996, it explodes like the bombshell that journalists like Webb hope for their entire lives. But in this case, the explosion damaged Webb more than anyone else.

“For what no one counted on was that the journalistic establishment — including elite newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times — would attempt to discredit Webb's reporting.

“In over his head in ways he never anticipated, Webb became a journalistic pariah for telling the story he so believed in. As its title indicates, "Kill the Messenger" is a cautionary tale, but for crusading journalists, keeping themselves safe from Gary Webb's fate may be easier said than done.” - Kenneth Turan, LA Times


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