Fair Game (2010) (PG-13)
'Valerie Plame' is a name that has faded into the background of American knowledge. At one time it might have been the name that was on everybody's lips and in everyone's head—but now, it's gone from the collective mind. Yet there is so much more to Valerie Plame than just a name, there is a woman standing behind the name and she is just as real as everyone else. Cliches aside, this is what "Fair Game" seeks to establish—this woman wasn't just a name on a page for people to underline, she wasn't a cold person who couldn't empathize, she was just like you or me—and she was treated unfairly. "Fair Game" retells the events in the life of Valerie Plame—in essence, a true story.
Plame was a CIA operative who took her job very seriously...not that the other CIA operatives didn't; she just excelled at what she did. Traveling the world, taking on aliases, dealing with people who normally wouldn't negotiate with Americans—these are the kinds of things that Plame had to deal with an a typical office day.
The movie opens in Kuala Lumpur, where Plame is meeting with business heads, posing as a marketer of some kind. It doesn't take long for her to switch to operative mode when one of the men starts making advances on her. She can hold her own among the elite, the criminals, and the average people in between.
When the main titles scrawl across the screen, they are mixed in with clips of news stories that date back as far as 2001 and contain George Bush in many of them.
One thing that this film doesn't do is flatter the Bush Administration—and how could it? The movie has a very personal feeling to it, like the spilling of emotion after years of concealment, but it also points fingers right at high profile people without shame—the film may feel justified in doing so, but it does get to be excessive in just one or two places.
It's clear from the dialogue and the situations that some of this movie is metaphorical. Some events just didn't ring true, but the emotion and the moral that they were conveying did.
Doug Liman, made famous for directing the "Bourne" movies, lends a much more intelligent feeling to this movie. At times he's as ferocious of a filmmaker as Bigelow and other times he's as sentimental as Spielberg.
"Fair Game" doesn't try to Americanize the film, though it could have. It reminds me of "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Hurt Locker" simply for that reason.
There are many interactions that make "Fair Game" a very smart movie—the knowledge that Plame has and has to pretend not to have yields some fantastic dinner scenes with unknowing neighbors.
Naomi Watts play Plame and she fits the role very well. The physical resemblance alone is uncanny. Sean Penn plays her husband, Joe Wilson and is passionate, head-strong, and brilliant in this role.
The jumpy cinematography and the driving score push the limits of this film.
By no means is "Fair Game" flawless, but it is remarkable in its own way.
Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4
Posted by Micah Jones