Blu-Ray Review: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn Carry ‘Fair Game’

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CHICAGO – Two of the best living actors shine in Doug Liman’s “Fair Game,” the (mostly) true story of Joe and Valerie Plame Wilson, two people who became symbols of the abuse of power of the Bush administration just as public opinion was turning on the war in Iraq. If you don’t know the name Scooter Libby, “Fair Game” will be educational. If you do know everything about the Wilson case already, it may be a little dry and inconsistent but strong performances still make it worth a rental. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

In July of 2003, Robert Novak wrote an article in the Washington Post that named Valerie Plame Wilson (played in the movie by Naomi Watts) as a CIA operative. Some have claimed, and the film takes this angle for sure, that the leak was maliciously intentional after her husband Joe (Sean Penn) had written an article questioning the well-known “yellow cake Uranium” story that the Bush administration was using to sell the war. How far up the ladder did the order to blow Valerie’s cover go? How could she survive now that her cover was blown? What could Valerie and Joe do to get justice?

Fair Game was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on March 29th, 2011
Fair Game was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on March 29th, 2011
Photo credit: Summit

Doug Liman, the director of “The Bourne Identity,” tries to turn the story of Valerie and Joe into a crackerjack thriller that borders on feeling paced like an action movie at times. It doesn’t always work. The film has such a mix of styles that I’m not sure that Liman was the best choice for this material. The best scenes are the most intimate ones between Penn and Watts and the entire scope of the piece doesn’t quite work.

I can tell you that Penn and Watts absolutely WERE the best choices for this material. They’re simply two of our best living actors and one can’t really dismiss “Fair Game” simply because of the work they bring to it. Watch it as an acting showcase and then go online and read more about the real case. This is only part of the story and it’s not the best dramatization of that part, but it’s going to take a lot of bad writing and directing for me to come down hard on a movie starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts. This is not that movie even if it’s ultimately more good than great.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary with Valerie Plame Wilson and Joe Wilson

“Fair Game” stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. It was written by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth and directed by Doug Liman. It is rated PG-13 and runs 108 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

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