DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
HD DVD / Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Sponsored Links
Search: For:
Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Kill the Messenger (Blu-ray)
Kill the Messenger (Blu-ray)
Universal // R // February 10, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted January 22, 2015 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly

The Movie:

Even though Heat is more fun to watch, my favorite Michael Mann film is still his underrated corporate thriller The Insider. On the surface, that film was about cigarette companies intentionally trying to get their customers addicted to their product while trying to squash any whistle blowing. However, what it was actually about was the gradual corrosion of journalistic ethics.

A solid political thriller about an extremely important subject, Kill The Messenger also manages to deftly examine the details of an ugly truth that destroyed many lives, while also delivering a solid blow to the recent gradual loss of ethics in journalism. Even though it's not as perfectly executed nor as memorable as The Insider in purely cinematic terms, it tells a tragic story, one that every American needs to know, with enough passion and vitriol to make an impact.

Based on true events, Kill The Messenger is about journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) uncovering CIA's collaboration with major Central American drug dealers in order to fund the Contras during the Nicaraguan revolutionary war in the 80s. Webb's piece on the subject explodes nationwide and pisses off a lot of people, most of them disenfranchised African Americans. Considering that the CIA's enabling of the drug transports almost single-handedly kick started the 80s crack epidemic, not to mention the hypocrisy of a government packing people of color in jails for non-violent drug offences while making deals with drug dealers, it's hard to blame them.

At first, Webb is commended for his excellent journalism work and it looks like his career is about to soar. That is, until the government understandably decides to cover up the scandal by discrediting his work and launching a massive smear campaign against him. After they silence Webb's sources, forcing his employers to question the accuracy of his reporting, they hit him where it hurts and successfully get the rest of the media to go after his credibility.

Perhaps it's somewhat ironic that the film that closely resembles Kill The Messenger aesthetically and thematically is All The President's Men. Both films take subdued and anti-sensationalist approaches to what are supposed to be thrillers, letting the intensity of the conflicts build gradually through the dissemination of raw facts. They both contain short sequences that belong in traditional thrillers, silent scenes that accentuate the characters' paranoia as well as the imminent real danger that surrounds them. Perhaps not so incidentally, both scenes take place in and around parking lots.

However, the real tension comes out of straightforwardly executed dialogue scenes that take place in editors' rooms, where important decisions that will not only affect the lives of our protagonists, but also the future of the country as a whole, are discussed. The irony of the film's All The President's Men connection comes when even though the reporters from The Washington Post were the heroes of that 70s masterpiece, they are the first to jump on the smear bandwagon against Webb, essentially turning them into the villains of this piece.

Director Michael Cuesta (L.I.E.) employs a fairly dry and procedural approach, which is the right choice for this genre. His occasional intercutting of vintage news footage from the real events into the fictional narrative could have come off as a bit pretentious, but in this case not only does this choice enable the audience to receive some vital information, it also adds even more of a sense of realism to his film. Jeremy Renner gives a natural performance that can bring on the perfect intensity when called for it, supported by a stellar cast that includes Andy Garcia, Tim Blake Nelson and Ray Liotta in a single yet chilling scene.

The Blu-Ray:

Video:

I'm glad that Cuesta and his DP Sean Bobbitt didn't go for a grainy 70s look in order to accentuate Kill The Messenger's old school political thriller roots. Even though it tells a story that takes place in the 90s and is about events that happened in the 80s, there isn't a deliberate attempt to give the film a vintage feel. The lighting and use of color mostly sticks to a natural style and the excellent 1080p transfer, devoid of any video noise or noticeable DNR, showcases that perfectly.

Audio:

Kill The Messenger is a dialogue heavy thriller, therefore not much power and range should be expected coming out of your surround system. The DTS-HD 5.1 transfer is clean and crisp, especially when it comes to dialogue. However, there are occasional moments where the score gives some surround ambiance during some intense scenes and a short sequence involving a motorcycle ride shows some power.

Extras:

Deleted Scenes: Nine minutes of material taken out of the final product, with optional commentary from the director. There are some interesting bits here, but nothing too vital.

The All-Star Cast, Crack in America, Filming in Georgia: These are three featurettes offered on the disc, all of which are glorified trailers with minimal use of interviews with the filmmakers. They range between two to three minutes.

Commentary by Michael Cuesta: This is a very informative commentary that audiences interested in finding out more about the real story should check out. Cuesto delivers an honest and open lecture on the real-life events, as well as scenes that needed to be augmented or created for dramatic purposes.

The set also comes with a DVD and Ultraviolet digital copy. A quick look at the DVD showed an excellent standard definition transfer.

Final Thoughts:

Kill The Messenger is an important political thriller about how far our government will go to provide an end to a means and how little truth in media is respected and championed when serious matters that really affect the public are on the line.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

Find the lowest price for 'Kill the Messenger (Blu-ray)'
Popular Reviews
1. Into The Night: Collector's Edition
2. Barry Lyndon
3. My Neighbor Totoro (GKIDS Release)
4. The Old Dark House
5. Superman The Movie: Extended Cut & Special Edition 2-Film Collection
6. Avanti!
7. The Beguiled
8. Castle In The Sky: Collector's Edition
9. Girls Trip
10. Dreamgirls: Director's Extended Edition


Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use