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Mixed or average reviews - based on 36 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 45 Ratings

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  • Summary: Journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) stumbles onto a story which leads to the shady origins of the men who started the crack epidemic on the nation’s streets and further alleges that the CIA was aware of major dealers who were smuggling cocaine into the U.S., and using the profits to armJournalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) stumbles onto a story which leads to the shady origins of the men who started the crack epidemic on the nation’s streets and further alleges that the CIA was aware of major dealers who were smuggling cocaine into the U.S., and using the profits to arm rebels fighting in Nicaragua. Despite warnings from drug kingpins and CIA operatives to stop his investigation, Webb keeps digging to uncover a conspiracy with explosive implications. His journey takes him from the prisons of California to the villages of Nicaragua to the highest corridors of power in Washington, D.C. – and draws the kind of attention that threatens not just his career, but his family and his life. Expand
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Andrew Barker
    Sep 26, 2014
    80
    The film taps into far deeper, richer veins of material than it has the time to properly mine. It’s nonetheless a flinty, brainy, continually engrossing work that straddles the lines between biopic, political thriller and journalistic cautionary tale, driven by Jeremy Renner’s most complete performance since The Hurt Locker.
  2. 75
    Renner’s performance — beginning with bluster and descending into twitchy paranoia — sells it and makes us fret for every “messenger” suddenly the target of the spotlight himself.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Oct 9, 2014
    75
    Jeremy Renner doesn’t put much movie-star mustard on his performance as a newspaper reporter in Kill the Messenger, and that’s one of the reasons the work is so strong.
  4. Reviewed by: Tom Russo
    Oct 9, 2014
    63
    It’s an engrossing portrait not only of government intrigue and crusading after the truth, but of media and their tangled motivations. Engrossing enough, in fact, that Cuesta needn’t try as hard as he occasionally does to heighten the drama and give it added flash.
  5. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Oct 9, 2014
    60
    If the screenplay to Kill the Messenger were a news story, any capable copydesk would have kicked it back to the reporter — not for a shortage of facts, but a lack of dramatic soul.
  6. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Sep 26, 2014
    60
    It’s a great story that lends itself to some striking scenes. Yet the film in total – if I may paraphrase Webb’s critics – has a number of holes.
  7. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Oct 8, 2014
    25
    Kill the Messenger tries to be the “JFK” of crack, but offers only shrill self-righteousness to answer the crazed energy of Oliver Stone’s masterpiece of deceit.

See all 36 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 12
  2. Negative: 1 out of 12
  1. Nov 5, 2014
    10
    if you like a real life, documentary type of movie that entertains you...Kill The Messenger is for you. based on true life facts of how theif you like a real life, documentary type of movie that entertains you...Kill The Messenger is for you. based on true life facts of how the government looked away, and in a covert way, condoned the flow of crack and other drugs into our inner cities at the expense of a generation of kids, and ruined lives filled with heartache, only to fund the contras... this was a movie you that will have you come away, further enlightened, and somewhat in awe the way the government and media work. Directed by Michael Cuesta, Kill The Messenger will provide a great evening out... Not to be missed ! Well done. Expand
  2. Oct 10, 2014
    10
    A very good movie elevated into something great thanks to a phenomenal performance from Jeremy Renner. It is painfully realistic, incrediblyA very good movie elevated into something great thanks to a phenomenal performance from Jeremy Renner. It is painfully realistic, incredibly important. Highly recommended. Expand
  3. Oct 10, 2014
    10
    This is a really important movie. It is an interesting, well-acted, absorbing movie experience. More important, it tells the true storyThis is a really important movie. It is an interesting, well-acted, absorbing movie experience. More important, it tells the true story of the U.S. government actually facilitating the sale of cocaine in U.S. cities to assist a right-wing group of Central Americans trying to overthrow a progressive Nicaraguan government. Why do we have thousands of scared immigrant children and dozens of messed up U.S. cities? A good portion of the reason lies in the abominable U.S. policies partially revealed in this movie. Expand
  4. Mar 4, 2015
    7
    Kill The Messenger is a harrowing biography of a journalist who goes dangerously far to uncover secrets. It brings emotional struggles asKill The Messenger is a harrowing biography of a journalist who goes dangerously far to uncover secrets. It brings emotional struggles as Jeremy Renner aptly portrays the protagonist. However, for the near two hours playtime, the pace occasionally stutters and even though it has some particularly exceptional sequences, the film might lose momentum before reaching those moments.

    A story of far reaching consequence lands on Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), as a man with integrity he decides to follow this lead. It takes him to many different places and people, ultimately he begins to realize a connection between drug epidemic and CIA. After he publishes the story, he must face rifts on his career as well as personal life.

    This is a very touchy subject, thankfully for the film Jeremy Renner plays the part admirably. He proves that he can deliver solid performance without guns or arrows. Much of the movie relies on his acting, Renner captures the intense trial his character must go through. From his doubt to keep his conviction, the external threat and also problems within his family.

    There are a few kinks in the screenplay. For a movie that needs to keep the tension going, the scenes are sometimes fragmented. It switches a bit too quickly when a scene just gains momentum, or there's not enough continuity to keep its excitement in consistent flow. That being said, there's also a few great moments, especially towards the latter half, but they feel detached.

    While problem in pacing persists, the sensitive material and good delivery by Jeremy Renner will keep the audience invested on trial and tribulation of the character.
    Expand
  5. Oct 11, 2014
    7
    A complicated and thought provoking film. Perhaps a bit too complicated to entertain the average viewer. The film had strong actingA complicated and thought provoking film. Perhaps a bit too complicated to entertain the average viewer. The film had strong acting performances but suffered from trying to do too much in 90 minutes. Honestly, this would have been better as a documentary then a dramatization. Still, I give it a positive review. Also, New York Post "reviewer", Kyle Smith, didn't like it (probably only watched half of it or played Angry Birds during it )...and that's always a strong reason to see it. Expand
  6. Mar 17, 2015
    7
    If you haven’t read up on the story or don’t know the name Gary Webb, the title of the movie, the premise, and Jeremy Renner’s name might leadIf you haven’t read up on the story or don’t know the name Gary Webb, the title of the movie, the premise, and Jeremy Renner’s name might lead you to think that you’re in for a Jason Borne style action thriller but it’s not. Kill the Messenger is a biopic but one that centers on a particular point of Gary Webb’s (Renner) life and like most biopics it has its moments.

    The backdrop of the story is smoothly set up through clips and newspaper articles that gives you a broad context of the story you’re walking into. The contextual elements are there but the movie focuses on the man, Gary Webb. You get to know him through his work and family before you dive into the story that will forever change his life. It's a slow built up, the tension rises with every piece of information he uncovers but at the same time you can feel this dark cloud looming on the edges and instinctively know that it's all going to crumble.

    Yes, there’s tension and an undeniable gut feeling that it won’t be all sunshine and unicorns at the end but the way done makes it bearable. The movie could have more exciting sensationalizing everything but Kill the Messenger is character driven, it's Gary Webb's point of view, and Gary is a reporter so the film just lays down the facts as a reporter would. Therefore when everything crumbles the only perspective you get is Gary's. You can see repercussions his investigative journalism had on his life, with constant contextual hints showing how his article affected everybody else, how it blew up.

    Renner’s character and his story takes center stage in the simplest matter of fact way possible and the cast does a great job of infusing life to it. Jeremy Renner is spot on as the investigative journalist that get consumed by his article. The rest of the cast is just as believable in showing how hard it was in the mid-90s to put to light a controversial issues.

    Kill the Messenger really is a tribute film to Gary Webb, it tells his side of the story and walks you through what he went through and by the end you’re left to decide what you want to believe, leaving you to dig for information yourself.

    @wornoutspines
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  7. Jan 23, 2015
    0
    The plot is already dense enough. why stretch the beginning of the story about irrelevant elements. The result is an unbalanced film. WhenThe plot is already dense enough. why stretch the beginning of the story about irrelevant elements. The result is an unbalanced film. When arriving at the important parts the public is already disinterested. Expand

See all 12 User Reviews