Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 70 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A suspense-filled glimpse into the deark corridors of political power, Fair Game is a riveting action-thriller based on the autobiography of real-life undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose career was destroyed and marriage strained to its limits when her covert identity was exposed by a politically motivated press leak. [Summit Entertainment] Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Nov 4, 2010
    It's ultimately a tale of heroism in the face of fearsome, powerful opposition, but as stubborn pride masquerading as ideological purity proves Wilson's Achilles heel, the film's heroes reveal themselves as flawed to an almost fatal extent, and messily, fascinatingly human.
  2. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Nov 1, 2010
    With first-rate performances from Sean Penn and Naomi Watts and a compelling script, this suspenseful, taut drama should keep audiences nailed to their seats.
  3. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Nov 5, 2010
    Though based on a true story with a well-known outcome, Doug Liman's Fair Game is as suspenseful as any fictional thriller -- and considerably more tragic.
  4. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 4, 2010
    Watts gives a deep and Oscar-worthy performance here, displaying the steely composure that made Plame a valued NOC (non-official cover operative).
  5. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Nov 4, 2010
    It seems to be doing everything right but still doesn't manage to leave you with a completely satisfied feeling.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 4, 2010
    Spends too much time covering ground well known from the headlines. But the scenes of the couple at home with their children and friends are uniquely fascinating, if not, in Wilson's words, "very 007-ish."
  7. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Nov 1, 2010
    Fair Game serves up impeccable politics with a bit too much righteous outrage and not quite enough solid drama.

See all 35 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 19
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 19
  3. Negative: 4 out of 19
  1. Dec 9, 2010
    Most know the story, or should, but it needed to be re-told. Can't remember the last time I left a theater more moved by a film, although in this case I was shaking in anger. It's a wonder that such a corrupt administration was elected . . . twice, but I guess people who can deny global warning, who imagine that tax cuts are constant with controlling budget deficits and that breaks for the wealthiest 1% somehow help the economy can similarly rationalize the outing of a true patriot who dedicated her life to serve her country in dangerous and important work. Expand
  2. Jun 9, 2011
    This is a geopolitical thriller. It would be widely entertaining were it not for the fact that it is based on real events in very recent global history in which a corrupt White House coddled officials who were guilty of treason in outing a CIA official, leaving valuable American assets around the world twisting in the wind, and then getting the media to Blame the Victim by painting Plame as a low-level insignificant paper pusher and not the high-level agent she actually was. Yes, of course that's a biased statement. But no one comes to this film unbiased. Ideologies dictate how one will respond to this powerful denoument of sleaze and connivance at the highest levels of power. If you like Bush-Cheaney you hate this vile besmirching of their unimpeachable character. Of course you do. I fear the degree to which voting Americans are handing over their birthright to the loudest shouter or the richest contributor. As a line in the film reminds us, Benjamin Franklin replied to a woman that "I have given you a republic, madam. Now it's your job to keep it." We are in danger of losing it. And oh, by the way, Naomi Watts embodies Valerie Plame so convincingly that you have to blink twice at the end to realize you're watching Plame testifying before the congressional committee, not Watts playing Plame. Expand
  3. Jan 29, 2011
    It would seem that one's response to this excellent film is colored by political affiliation. I thought it was a superbly made political drama that highlighted one aspect of the Bush/Cheney administrations b.s. that got us into Iraq. As to one user's reviewer complaining "this is fiction, not factual," based on Judith Miller's article in the Wall Street Journal, big deal. 1. she's bummed because she's not featured in the film, and 2. it's the right wing Journal, what do you expect. So some of the "facts" were altered, oh wow. That does not in anyway dismiss the primary issue that the Niger/Iraq uranium claim was not true, and Plame was outed because her husband tried to show Bush lied. Both Watts and Sean Penn are terrific in the film. One of the best of 2010. Essential viewing. Expand
  4. Dec 3, 2010
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The American public is fair game for ridicule when it comes to the subject of how a good majority of us reacted towards the events leading up to our country's invasion of Iraq. Either we were asleep or misinformed, and Joe Wilson(Sean Penn), the husband of outed spy Valerie Plame who wrote an op-ed piece entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa" shortly after the "shock and awe" of 2003, is employed by the filmmaker to make us feel stupid about our collective apathy and naivety. Watching the Penn-like Joe in "Fair Game"(after all, the Hollywood actor is also a committed political activist) is akin to being stuck in the company of the smartest man in the room. Make no mistake about it, Joe Wilson has an air of smugness about him, an honest-to-goodness blowhard, but when you consider the lives lost among our military personnel and the collateral damage they caused on the other side of the Atlantic, we probably do deserve a little cigar smoke blown in our faces, and be taken to task. When Joe calls his wife's friend's husband a "racist p*ssy", it's an indictment on many Americans who would have agreed with that man's expressed leeriness toward the prospects of being on a plane with an Arab, only to years after 9/11. For all intents and purposes, Joe just called us a bunch of racist p*ssies, especially if you share such a xenophobic viewpoint to this very day. At that pub, at the outset of "Fair Game", there's a brief shot of Joe glancing up at the television just before he returns to the small party of couples gathered at his table. It's a tight shot: just him, the bartender, and a seated customer nursing his beer at the bar, so it would be pure speculation to say that nobody else in that drinking institution shares his interest in current events. As it turns out, he probably was the only one. Later in the film, Joe stares up at the television again, but this time, the filmmaker goes wide, and reveals in that airport departure area, a microcosm of people's indifference toward all things political, as the true patriot finds himself surrounded by sleepers while our former president delivers "the sixteen words that led us to war" during his State of the Union address. Joe alone, seemingly, knew about the abuses of power carried out by the Bush administration, and granted, it took courage to write that piece on his visit to Niger(which contradicted Bush on the subject of those aluminum tubes which were purported to hold Sadaam's uranium), but he's no ordinary Joe, an arch-liberal who knew that Sadaam Hussein posed no imminent threat to the United States(another gathering, another wife's friend's husband gets blasted for being an ignoramus), so to some extent, Valerie Plame's husband must have known about the media firestorm he was concocting by defying the leader of the free world. Writing the letter to the New York Times was his opportunity to step out from under his wife's considerable shadow. "Fair Game" isn't afraid to show the real Joe Wilson, warts and all. Before Wilson becomes an envoy to Niger, he goes through an interview process conducted by some Pentagon higher-ups, and before they're seated, the somewhat emasculated man, perhaps feeling like a subordinate of his wildly intimidating wife, introduces himself as "Joe Wilson" with a slight manic edge to his voice and over-vigorous handshaking style that denotes an insecurity about being Valerie Plame's husband. Maybe, perhaps, a little hostility too, as evidenced by his use of the word "p*ssy", a derogatory term that implies the fairer gender as being the weaker sex, which certainly is not the case with this particular couple. When Valerie loses her job at the CIA, and becomes a target for spinning right-wing pundits on a daily basis, Joe finally gets to be her protector, the proverbial man of the house, as his one-man crusade against the political machinations of Scooter Libby and the other White House gorillas could be interpreted as an ego trip, albeit one SUffused with genuine love for his wife. But it counterbalances the scene where Joe is the chick, the woman who gets left behind, when he complains about Valerie's frequent disappearing acts, just before this real life Salt leaves home in the wee morning hours. "I never know where you are," says Joe. That's a chick's line. Expand
  5. Aug 25, 2011
    Two of the finest actors alive, a true story with a real political subplot would make a great film under the hands of Clooney (or others with strong political sensitivities). However Liman who mostly deals with Hollywood entertainment, misses the spot and brings a film without nerve. Expand
  6. Apr 7, 2011
    I felt that the film had a lot to explain in a very little time scale, i would of felt more involved in the story if there would of been a proper explanation of what the purpose was in each of the countries instead of trying to guess what they were there for.
    I did however like that they kept to the true story of what happened to Valerie which i felt was completely apauling on the governments behalf, it also showed me that the government only look out for themselves and not there people.
    I did like it i just felt the story could of been explained better to get the audience more involved.
  7. Nov 21, 2010
    I am saddened by what passes for movies these days. Completely unengaging in all aspects. Nothing but a cluster of "scenes" that are thrown together with hand held, close-up camera work, which is used by directors that don't know how to make movies. Utilizes the dreaded TV Drama "formula" most of the time. If I see one more scene that has three people walking down a hallway like they are "on a mission", spewing all important information one after the other, in place of actually developing a story and characters............... I will puke.
    This movie, like most of the crap coming out these days, is an utter mess.

See all 19 User Reviews