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87 of 95 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 22, 2010
Remember Joe Wilson, the man who called a US President a liar?

No, I don't mean the Congressman from South Carolina who shouted out a spontaneous "You Lie!" at President Barack Obama during the State of the Union address. I'm referring to Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson who wrote a New York Times editorial entitled "What I Didn't Find In Africa" contradicting President George W. Bush regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"Fair Game" relates to the latter Joe Wilson (played by Sean Penn), who served as a diplomat in Africa during the 1990's and was asked to visit Niger prior to the Iraqi war to determine if there was yellowcake uranium there. Ambassador Wilson did not find the uranium on his visit and when the President referred to the uranium being there, he wrote a contradiction.

As a result of that contradiction, Wilson's wife CIA agent Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) was determined to be 'fair game' by the Bush Administration. Her cover was blown and the operations she engaged in were all scrapped, including getting Iraqi nuclear scientists who had been involved in Iraq's nuclear program before it was destroyed during a previous US invasion and their families free from their war-torn country.

The film's a tightly paced combination spy thriller and domestic drama. On one hand, you see the front page news of "Plamegate". Valerie's discredited and her career is dismantled. She goes from being a well-traveled agent with highly critical projects to 'a secretary' or a 'low level flunky' depending on what you read.

On the other, you see the Wilson homelife unraveling. The idealistic Joe is counterpointed strongly by his realistic wife as the country turns against them both. They receive countless threats, to the point of Valerie having to remove her children from their home.

This investigation resulted in the case, US vs. Libby in which Vice President Dick Cheney's aide Scooter Libby was tried on five federal felony counts. Libby was convicted on four of those charges, involving false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice, none of which related directly to the Plame revelation but rather to his failure to cooperate with the subsequent investigation into the revelation. Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a fine of $250,000. President Bush subsequently commuted Libby's sentence.

If you're interested in Wilson's memoirs, check out: The Politics of Truth: A Diplomat's Memoir: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity

Rebecca Kyle, November 2010
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92 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2011

STARRING: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Ty Burrell, Brooke Smith, Thomas McCarthy, Jessica Hecht, Noah Emmerich, Bruce McGill and Sam Shepard

WRITTEN BY: Jez Butterworth and John Henry Butterworth; based on the books, The Politics of Truth, by Joseph Wilson, and Fair Game by Valerie Plame


Rated: PG - 13
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 05 November 2010
Review Date: 09 November 2010

A very rewarding and not highly practiced treat in cinema, is sitting down in your seat at a theater and having no idea what kind of movie you're about to watch; not the premise, not the rating, not the genre.

I've been fortunate to do this a few times and it can be awesome. If you're wondering how you can do this, well - every once in a while for whatever reason, a studio will release a film with A-list talent but only put it in a selected handful of theaters across the country. As such was the case for me when I drove 15 miles to see Fair Game at my city's `artsy' theater, knowing only that it was the new Sean Penn.

I was also surprised to learn at the film's close, that it was based very largely on a true story. Fair Game shows a couple who was sabotaged by the media when they exposed that the government had blatantly lied about where Iraq may or may not have gotten their supposed nuclear warheads, way back at the brink of the Iraq war.

Now before you get all fussy due to the touchy political subject matter, RELAX. I'm a proud American and served in the Military and I didn't find the film offensive. We are all aware that Sean Penn is known for voicing his lefty political views rather radically; but I strongly think 99 percent of us with brain stems will agree with his character's speech at the end of the film.

This movie isn't about bashing Bush or his administration and it's not about being anti-American and painting a portrait that displays Iraqi terrorists as the good guys and us as the bad guys. If anything, it's a film showcasing both our beautiful God-given rights to freedom of speech and that if you KNOW firsthand that someone lied, then you may want to do something about it; sometimes no matter what the cost.

I'm not going to say whether or not the film is 100 percent accurate because I don't know that and you don't know that. Hell, the filmmakers probably don't even know that. But we ALL know that things were shady to say the least for a while there, and that surely somewhere, SOMEONE lied - big or small, they did; and it was most likely more than one person.

Anyway - Fair Game shows us a character named Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) who volunteered to go to Africa on behalf of the CIA's request, to investigate if and or how weapons of mass destruction could have been shipped from there. The film shows us very clearly, that they could not have been. Our character knows this. Oh, and he was asked to do this by the way, because his wife Valerie (Naomi Watts) is a CIA operative, and Joe has some experience in this field, the details of which I'll leave for you to discover.

When Joe returns, he is baffled to soon learn that we are going to war, and that the President and the Pentagon have more or less claimed that it was proven that these WMDs did in fact come from Africa, and that Iraq has them and that we need to step in. Being one of, if not THEE only American who knows this to be not true, Joe naturally feels a duty to report this. So he writes and article, has it published and all hell breaks loose for him and his wife, and that's all I'm going to tell.

There are however, a slew of small additional things to mention to you. The acting is sensational; specifically from both Penn and Watts, no shocker there I'm sure. The cinematography is terrific as is the direction by Doug Liman who also brought us The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. And the film is brilliantly written and it displays scenes of realistic moments we can all relate to; such as political discussions at a dinner table with friends or family who are quick to run their mouths about things of which they have no personal experience with. You know, dinners where everyone at the table is an expert and can solve all the world's problems? Yeah, dinners like that.

If anything, aside from being entertaining from start to finish, Fair Game is a movie that makes you think. It makes us realize how the media will often twist and skew things to be interpreted the way they see fit; and don't worry - I'm not blind to the fact that Hollywood does this as well.

Although the odds are high that it will never happen to you or me, each and every one of us could be `fair game' to the media or the government's vendetta driven shenanigans at any moment. But what's great about America, and what this film is trying to convey to us, is that thanks to our amazing Constitution... the media and government can be fair game as well.
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87 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2011
Fair Game is one of the best politically themed films in quite some time - an equally riveting and well told story of the Bush administration's leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to the general public. I highly recommend this movie no matter what side of the political spectrum you are on - if for nothing more than two see the two Oscar-worthy performances of Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. The movie is great, and the final sequence of the film is one of the year's best.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2011
I watched the Valerie Plame hearing on TV when it was shown. What got us in the Iraq war amoung other things was what had been done to the Wilsons when Joe Wilson wrote his op-ed about Niger not selling anything to Saddam Huessen. This goes into more of their behind the scenes life & how Joe Wilson fought what the G.W. Bush admin was putting out especially V.P. Cheney. But even though Cheney was behind it all & "Scooter" Libby took the fall for him & when Scooter was sentenced, Bush IMMEDIATELY pardoned him before he even spent a day in prison (he did pay a $250.000.00 fine & lost his Lawyers license) but they in my estimation WERE THE WINNERS. Joe Wilson & Valerie Plame came out clean but the administration was raked over the coals. At the end of the movie it shows Valerie Plame walking into the Capital to testify---that was her. IF YOU WANT TO LEARN HOW OUR GOVERNMENT CAN TURN LIES INTO THE TRUTH----YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS MOVIE. BUSH HAD SAID ON TV WHEN THEY "OUTED" HER THAT IF ANYONE IN HIS ADMINISTRATION HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT HE WOULD FIRE THEM. YOU GUESSED IT------NO ONE WAS FIRED---ANOTHER LIE STRAIGHT FROM THE PRESIDENT IN REAL TIME. So enjoy the movie---it's good.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2010
A thriller with real teeth, this film presents a barely fictionalized account of events related to how the Bush administration apparently lied on a massive, perhaps criminally reprehensible, scale regarding Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program, seeking justification for America's going to war with Iraq.

One of the most interesting things about Fair Game, for me, is how an entertainment based on actual events cycles back to continue the "real-world" narrative that gave rise to it.

The film actually further pursues husband-and-wife Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson's counterattack against those in George W. Bush's administration who deliberately leaked Plame's status as a covert CIA operative to discredit her husband, formerly an Africa expert with the State Department, who had gone public with the news that the US government was lying about Iraq having imported large quantities of "yellow cake" uranium from Niger.

The film weaves together excellent acting by Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, in the roles of Plame and Wilson, with network video footage of Bush and Cheney spinning the grounds for going to war, as well as with other documentary material I won't reveal for fear of spoiling its impact. Fair Game has no compunction about using these names as well as those of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. There's a heady tone of, "Okay, these people, whom we're naming flat out--this is no time for coyness--appear to be liars and pretty evil. So we say, and they can sue us if they dare."

According to the storyline, not only did Bush/Cheney's spinmeisters set out to destroy Plame and Wilson's careers and public reputations, they showed utter disregard for the lives of the many agents Plame was operating in countries such as Iraq, where Saddam's displeasure entailed brutal ends for agents and family members alike.

Through much of the story, Plame and Wilson are getting smeared by the bad guys. By film's end, however, their tough and principled refusal to back down is finally paying off.

Now the film itself presents a nicely self-referential continuation of their attempt to show that--even in this age of mass media and expert political manipulation of public perceptions--us little people can fight back. And we can resist partly by using similar instruments.

At this point, though, the cynic in me rears up and suggests it ain't so easy, and nowhere is it writ that the good guys have to win. How much will Fair Game serve, as surely it was intended, to alert the public to the basic amorality of many of our puppet masters? Hardly at all, I'll bet. More likely, those who were already true liberal believers will say, "Right on, right on!" while those who suckle their realities at the Fox News teat will dismiss Fair Game as just more consarned work of the Devil and his liberal minions. And never the twain will meet.

So the Republicans will win the US national election in two years, and China will loom at one end of the Tea Party negotiating table, other guests being North Korea as the dormouse and Iran as the March Hare. (Does anyone know where I can find a couple of affordable tickets off-planet? One way will do fine.)

Whatever. Did I mention the movie is also very entertaining?

MomKicking Dogs
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2011
Some have compared this film to "All the President's Men", which told of the travails of the intrepid reporters who unraveled the Watergate scandal.

There's one large and tragic difference between that story and the one told in "Fair Game". Watergate forced Richard Nixon to resign his office in disgrace. The treasonous activities perpetrated by Bush, Cheney, and their cronies have had all but no repercussions.

Bush now makes thousands speaking at company functions. Cheney is about to release a book justifying his misdeeds. And Bush commuted the sentence of the one guy who took a fall for the "Plamegate" scandal, Cheney's operative Scooter Libby.

Make no mistake. The story told in "Fair Game" captures one of the darkest hours in American history. The leaders of our nation launched a war of aggression on another country, attempting to justify their actions based on the flimsiest web of false information.

When one courageous citizen, former ambassador Joe Wilson, spoke out about the campaign of deceit waged by the White House, the White House exposed his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative, and attempted to discredit the couple in a wave of lies and vitriol that lasted four long years.

Any American, either on the right or left, who cares about "truth, justice, and the American way" should be outraged and disgusted by what went on here. This movie does a valuable service in dramatizing and focusing a complicated story obscured in real life by the fog of disinformation into a taut hour-and-forty-five minute drama.

This DVD also brings more to the story than the original theatrical release, because the disc includes illuminating commentary by Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. Their testimony gives the film a stamp of unimpeachable veracity unlike the flim flam concocted by the Bush administration in its helter-skelter runup to the Iraq War.

Happily, the couple now seem happy and proud of their courageous actions, but they also remark how watching the film brings back some terrible recollections, especially when they see the footage the film contains of the warmongers spewing their pathetic lies on camera.

Bush, Cheney, Peter King, Condoleeza Rice, and others should all be ashamed and shunned for the rest of their lives by all true Americans.

The performances by Naomi Watts and Sean Penn as the embattled couple are impeccable, and indeed Plame and Wilson both say what accurate portrayals of themselves are on display here.

In my opinion, this film should be required viewing by all school children here in the United States for generations to come. And for those families whose loved ones gave the ultimate sacrifice in that unjust war, one can only feel the deepest of sympathy.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2011
This film deals with the Valerie Plame scandal during the early Iraq war years. Cheney/Rove had exposed an undercover CIA agent in the press, in mean-spirited revenge for her husband's public challenge to the Bush lies about the Iraq wmd program. A bag-carrier of the VP took the fall guy role and was sentenced to jail.
If this were not a 'true' story, its subject could be defined as: how much risk do we need to take to fight for truth and against abuse of power? Is truth in the public sphere worth damaging our personal life?
As this film is a rather literal transposal of 'real' events into a story on the screen, the question becomes another one: why is a president who fabricated a pretext in order to drag his country and indirectly much of the world into a war of aggression, not being prosecuted for his criminal acts while in office? and why do the one-star-reviewers, who take the film for its political face value, not comment on the truth question? is it irrelevant to them?
There are moments when I almost regret that the good old times of the W presidency are over: nobody to make fun of any more. This film serves the useful purpose of reminding me of the criminal truth of the W years.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2011
These peoples lives we all but destroyed buy the Bush administration and conservatives refuse to accept the truth. Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA operative and she was exposed. Her contacts lives were immediately endangered from that moment on and her marriage suffered a serious blow. Yet there are so many who think she's the one who's "unpatriotic"! Really?

In the end she and her husband were right all along! There was no "yellow-cake" shipped to Iraq and this was so expertly demostrated in the movie. And there's STILL no WMD found there 8 years later. It only costs us 4000+ dead soldiers and 10's of thousands of seriously wounded. By that I mean missing legs and arms and worst of all brain injuries. So who's unpatriotic in this story? Oh - and that lame exuse saying "Saddam was a bad guy and he had to be removed from power", is the dumbest load of camel dung I have ever heard! There are alot of bad guys who deserve to die, a thousand times over, and no one is even trying to remove them from power! Go figure.

This movie is a window into the slow decay of Joe and Valeries former life at that point in time. It also offers a small glimps into things they had to endure on a daily basis.

I cant wait to watch it again and listen to the Commentary of the real Wlison's themselves. That should be interesting!...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 23, 2011
Based upon the true story of a CIA agent's encounter with politics, Fair Game is a suspenseful tale about the career of Valerie Plame and her eventual struggle with the US government. Naomi Watts does an excellent job playing Plame and Sean Penn is outstanding as her husband, diplomat Joe Wilson.

The CIA had been watching Iraq for several years. During the war in Afghanistan, a rumor surfaced suggesting that Iraq was seeking material to make nuclear weapons. The Vice President sent his chief of Staff to the CIA to learn if Iraq was a threat to peace.

Due to the White House request, CIA leaders asked Joe Wilson, a former US Ambassador in Africa, to travel to Africa and use his contacts to discover whether Niger actually supplied Iraq with yellow-cake uranium. Joe agrees to take an informal trip to Niger, at his own expense, to learn whatever he could.

Valerie's husband Joe gets her in trouble. Ambassador Wilson travels to Africa and finds that the report about Niger selling nuclear material is false. After the President, in his State of the Union address, contends that Iraq obtained weapons grade uranium from Niger, he writes a newspaper article that challenges the President's word. The White House reacts by attacking Joe and Valerie, and releasing to the press that Valerie is a CIA agent. Being exposed, Valerie loses her effectiveness as a agent and is fired from the CIA. Joe's actions, whether seen as heroic or foolish, hurt his relationship with Valerie and threatened their marriage.

The film enhances Plame's professionalism and integrity by picturing her on several overseas missions as an active and effective undercover operative. She heads a team that engages in serious actions against foreign threats to the USA. Valerie is loyal and totally professional. Even when she is exposed, she insists on keeping silent about her activities and government secrets.

What really happened to Valerie Plame? Why did the Vice President's chief of staff reveal her identity and blow her CIA cover? What did the CIA really know about Iraq and their weapons program? Was Joe Wilson's outrage based upon truth or fraud. This movie presents answers.

This is a good movie that does an excellent job of telling the story of Valerie Plame. Fair Game is action packed, but also is politically charged. I recommend this movie.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2011
Doug Liman's "Fair Game" is the contemporary sibling to Alan J. Pakula's All the President's Men. "Fair Game," like "All the President's Men," tells an important true story about how dangerous the clashing between media and government can be and that we should always hold people accountable for their actions, regardless of the positions they hold. "Fair Game" is a taunt political thriller that is accurate to the events but also gripping in a cinematic way. The performances from Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are terrific and the film is well written with snappy dialogue. Long story shot, "Fair Game" is fine tuned, adult entertainment. The film makes you think, it's relevant, and exciting. It's important for films based on true events, where the outcome is already know, to remain engrossing, and "Fair Game" is certainly that.

On a side note, one of the biggest mysteries of the 2010 movie year was how completely overlooked Naomi Watt's performances were. She had a trio of tremendous films that were totally ignored. To understand what I am talking about you must check out Rodrigo Garcia's Mother and Child, Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and of course "Fair Game." She is one of the best actresses working today and deserves much more credit than she is getting.
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