If you can imagine Nixon resigning in the middle of All the President’s Men, with the remainder of the film dedicated to Woodward and Bernstein fighting their editor, you have a pretty good idea how Kill the Messenger plays out. It’s not a bad film, but it is a sloppy one that squanders a firecracker start and a terrific performance from Jeremy Renner. As Gary Webb ponders whether to publish his inflammatory story, he is advised that, “Some stories are just too true to tell.” Such is the case with some scripts, which, in their admirable haste to relate the truth, forget the requirements of compelling storytelling. If you want to find the heart of Webb’s story, you’ll have to dig a little deeper.
Ambition can be the enemy of precision. With its multiple storylines and subplots, there is no denying the overarching ambition of Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children. What seems to be missing, however, is the attention to detail required to craft a rewarding and engaging film. The good ideas are undermined by ‘Young Adult’ clichés, and the interesting stories aren’t given enough time to flourish. The end result is a messy little film that doesn’t offer enough insight to warrant enduring the melancholy.