Movie Details

Fair Game

As a covert officer in the CIA`s Counter-Proliferation Division, Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) leads an investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Valerie`s husband, diplomat Joseph Wilson (Sean Penn), is drawn into the investigation to substantiate an alleged sale of enriched uranium from Niger. But when the administration ignores his findings and uses the issue to support the call to war, Joseph writes a New York Times editorial outlining his conclusions and ignites a firestorm of controversy.

Language: English
Subtitle: NA
Classification: PG
Release Date: 13 Jan 2011
Genre: Action / Thriller / Biography
Running Time: 1 Hour 48 Minutes
Cast: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Ty Burrell
Director: Doug Liman
Format: NA


Writer: Lorraine DCosta

Writer Ratings:

Watch this if you liked: “The Bourne Identity”, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”, ”Jumpers”

"Fair Game" is brutal and personal story of the consequences of dirty politics. It is an examination of one of the slimiest moments of the Bush administration. Bad days and bad events are quickly forgotten but "Fair Game" is there to remind us of not only the manipulation of evidence and the falsehoods of the Iraq war but also the high cost of telling the truth in a time of fear and distress. The real life story of CIA Covert Operative Valerie Plame and her former ambassador husband Joseph Wilson gets the big screen treatment in this fast moving political dram from director Dough Liman ("The Bourne Identity"). Remembered by most people as one of the most high profile cases during the Bush administration, the story of Valerie Palme Wilson, a covert CIA agent whose cover was blown in 2003 by a leak traced to the Bush White House is a classic example of a power game at its highest level.

"Fair Game" begins in Kuala Lumpur, where Plame (Naomi Watts) works in nuclear non-proliferation for the CIA under cover of being an energy executive. After a dicey situation in which she succeeds in "turning" an asset (persuading a local contact to become an informant) - she returns home, where Wilson is starting a freelance consulting career and caring for the couple's young twins. When Plame is reassigned to work on a task force studying whether Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, she is told by higher-ups that the orders are coming from "across the river".

Soon she spies I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby (David Andrews) roaming the CIA halls, presumably on orders from his boss, vice president Dick Cheney, to find those Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), and fast. Wilson (Seann Penn), meanwhile, travels to Niger at the request of the CIA - with Plame vouching for his bona fides, a fact that would later be used against her - to investigate claims that Hussein has purchased yellowcake uranium from that country. He finds no such evidence. So when Bush, in his State of the Union address, declares that Saddam shopped for nuclear materials in Africa, Wilson is determined to correct the statement.

Wilson wrote an op-ed piece in the "New York Times" debunking Bush's "facts". And then the administration, in a pointless act of retaliation against a woman working on behalf of the U.S., leaked the fact to columnist Robert Novak that Plame was a CIA agent, thus putting her, and many of her contacts, as well as her operations, in danger. The most explosive charge levelled in "Fair Game" is that Iraqi assets developed by Plame were hung out to dry and may have lost their lives after the leak. Those characters reportedly are composites, but they represent a sobering reminder of what was at stake beyond the political theatre.

Based on the respective books by the Wilsons, the movie gives an idea of what it's like to work in intel and not be able to say a word about it. It also takes us into the CIA's offices, to show stressed agents, in 2002 and 2003, doing everything they can to furnish intelligence on demand and arrive at conclusions predetermined by the White House. The most compelling scenes take place in the Wilsons' stately Palisades home, where the secrecy of Plame's job and the emotional demands of marriage clash with unsettling, exhausting force. "I don't know where you go," a bleary-eyed Wilson tells Plame when she leaves for yet another undisclosed location. By that time the relationship is being conducted via Post-it notes and strategic handoffs of kids and household responsibilities: in other words, the daily blend of compromise and logistical juggling that defines most modern two-career families.

With no flashy explosive or over-the-top action sequences at his disposal, Liman lets the characters and the story take over, wisely keeping distractions to a minimum. The strength of the movie lies in presenting and exposing an account of political betrayal rather than exploring the human fallout. Director Doug Liman steers clear of re-firing the leak of Plame's name to the media during the George W. Bush administration, instead focusing on how her being a spy, and then being ousted, affected the Wilsons' marriage. Naomi Watts and Seann Penn teamed up to give an absolutely stunning performance. Watts and Penn bring ferocity and feeling to their roles, turning a potent political thriller into a stirring, relatable human drama.

"Fair Game" is the kind of taut, serious adult drama Hollywood rarely produces anymore. Quality-starved audiences should flock to it. A movie that is not to be missed.

Cinema Online, 16 December 2010
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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