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Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics What's this?

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7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 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 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
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33
  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. 63
    A resonant journalistic cautionary tale gets packaged as a hokey thriller in Kill the Messenger, a movie with a message that isn’t nearly as urgent as it needs to be.
  5. Reviewed by: Matt Singer
    Oct 8, 2014
    60
    Kill The Messenger isn’t a great movie, but it’s a great vehicle for Renner, and a showcase for the kind of work he should be doing more regularly.
  6. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Oct 9, 2014
    58
    Even as it celebrates the spirit of committed journalism that rises above the powerful forces designed to contain it, Kill the Messenger displays the same anesthetized quality that Webb's dedication to his job was meant to counteract. Renner is a different story.
  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 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Oct 10, 2014
    10
    A very good movie elevated into something great thanks to a phenomenal performance from Jeremy Renner. It is painfully realistic, incredibly important. Highly recommended. Expand
  2. 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 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
  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 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. Oct 17, 2014
    8
    A taut, well-crafted, fact-based thriller with excellent performances by Jeremy Renner and a fine supporting cast. With elements reminiscent of "All the President's Men" and "Fair Game," the film effectively exposes the nefarious tactics used by those who have much to lose as a result of their reprehensible transgressions -- and the unfortunate, sometimes tragic effects they have on everyone touched by such scurrilous events. 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 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. Oct 12, 2014
    6
    I did not go to see Kill the Messenger for political reasons but because I wanted to see a good film. The film was well-made, but didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t know and the view of journalism was nothing special. I realize this movie was based on fact, but my overall comment is the facts as presented in the script were pretty dull and not surprising. This film also brought up an interesting topic at lunch – why isn’t Jeremy Renner more successful as an actor? Our conclusion was that he simply is not very charismatic but more workmanlike. In the right role (and with the right director) like in The Hurt Locker, he does a great job, but he doesn’t seem to be able to rise above the material, like for example, Geoffrey Rush or even Michael Caine can. The film was well-made and the cast very strong, especially the journalist’s wife, son, and editor, but I cannot recommend it as a particularly interesting two hours. The few minutes of video of the real Gary Webb at the end were more interesting, sad, and provocative than the rest of this workmanlike film. Expand
  7. Oct 23, 2014
    5
    Jeremy Renner plays Gary Webb, the journalist who exposed the scandal that the CIA was selling drugs to finance the Contras in Nicaragua. It starts with his spunky, determined research, but when the paranoia kicks in, the pacing and energy deteriorate. Renner goes for the intensity, but the movie fails to support his force. The tired family subplot doesn't add the intended warmth. While it's mildly interesting, the writing and direction simply don't deliver the drama. Expand

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