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DVD Review: Fair Game

March 29, 2011

Fair Game – An eOne Films’ Release

DVD Release Date: March 29th, 2010

Rated PG for not recommended for young children, langugae may offend and mature themes

Running time: 108 minutes

Doug Liman (dir.)

Jez Butterworth (screenplay)

John-Henry Butterworth (screenplay)

Based on the books The Politics of Truth by Joseph Wilson and Fair Game by Valerie Plame

John Powell (music)

Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame

Sean Penn as Joe Wilson

Our reviews below:


Fair Game DVD Review By John C.

** (out of 4)

Based on interesting events in recent history, Fair Game begins in 2002 with Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) working for the CIA on a mission to uncover the truth behind the government’s belief that Iraq had plans to produce a nuclear weapon.  When her husband, retired ambassador Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) made public his own research showing that no uranium had actually been purchased, Plame’s identity was leaked in an act of pure political revenge.

The pace of Fair Game is too drawn out and slow for it to work as a thriller, and we are already familiar with the plot twists by the time they are finally revealed.  The shots are so badly framed that it also never comes together as a domestic drama, and there isn’t any chemistry between Penn and Watts, which is exemplified by the fact that they both turn in fairly average performances on their own.  This is ultimately a middling dramatization of true events that could have been so much more.

The Blu-ray includes audio commentary with Valeire Plame-Wilson and Joe Wilson.


Fair Game DVD Review by Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Fair Game is based on the true story of CIA agent Valerie Plame (played here by Naomi Watts) and her husband Joe Wilson (played by Sean Penn).  In 2002, when the US entered into war with Iraq, the public was informed they were looking for WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction), after a sale of Uranium from Niger to Iraq.  The CIA had no evidence of this, and Wilson (a former ambassador) had gone to Niger earlier in the year and confirmed that there could have been no such transaction.  His wife Plame also had several contacts in the area and had advised against entering into war.  When Wilson wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times revealing this fact after the war began, the vice-president’s department leaked CIA agent Plame’s identity in retaliation – a criminal offense to do so.

The story is interesting, but the problem is, most of us already know how it ends.  The two main leads are fine, although present nothing new or special in terms of acting here.  On top of that, the camera work doesn’t feel very well planned out, with the dialogue scenes, particularly when multiple are people talking, filmed in a sloppy, confusing manner.

The back of the package is kind of misleading – this is not a political thriller, but rather a political drama.  The trailer (which I only watched after viewing the film), also overly plays up the film.  If suspense and quick exchanges are what you’re looking for, this film will underwhelm.  But for an account of a true story, Fair Game is fair rental entertainment.


Fair Game DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Fair Game tells the true story of the lies that started the war in Iraq.  Naomi Watts stars as Valerie Plame, a CIA agent who discovers that Saddam Hussien had no nuclear weapon.  Her husband Joe Wilson, a retired ambassador to Africa, confirms Plame’s discovery after a trip to Niger fails to find evidence of uranium shipments.  Wilson reports the findings to the New York Times, much to the annoyance of the American government.  The White House retaliates by blowing Plame’s cover, putting their family at risk.

Fair Game is somewhat of an uneven film.  While the stuff about the White House is fascinating, I found the domestic scenes between Valerie and Joe to be too long and slightly boring.  The film, while considered a thriller, is actually a political drama.  Personally, I would have preferred the film to have more suspense, as well as being shorter.  However, with a decent anti-war message, I would recommend this film.


Fair Game DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

When CIA agent Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) was working undercover prior to the Iraq war she never imagined the Bush administration would publicly expose her identity.  When her husband, retired ambassador Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) helped uncover lies and misinformation about Suddam Hussein and weapons in Iraq the government retaliated against the couple, putting them both in danger.

Fair Game is a docudrama based on this politically-charged story.  While the story itself has elements of excitement and danger, director Doug Liman fails to develop any real sense of suspense.  Both lead actors, Watts and Penn, do a decent job with their roles though there doesn’t seem to be much chemistry between them as an on-screen couple.  Perhaps the focus was meant to remain on the political story itself.  While the story here is inherently interesting, Fair Game runs a little long and a little dry.  But if you are a fan of the lead actors or like stories of political corruption, then it might be worth checking out.


Fair Game DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Fair Game is a dramatization of events leading to the U.S. invasion of Iraq based on false allegations of weapons of mass destruction. Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) was a valued CIA operative who found no credible evidence of a viable Iraqi nuclear weapon program. Meanwhile her husband, former distinguished diplomat Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), reported to the government that Niger was an extremely unlikely source for uranium to Iraq. When the invasion took place on the pretext that Iraq had nuclear weapons using fuel from Niger, Wilson wrote an op-ed column in the New York Times in an attempt to refute the story. Plame was then outed as a CIA agent in the press, presumably in retaliation to Wilson’s disagreement with the Bush administration. Publicizing Plame’s identity not only meant the end of her CIA career and compromised all her contacts, it is also a felony. Though the source of her outing probably came from Karl Rove (Adam LeFevre) if not the vice president himself, the lower-ranking Scooter Libby (David Andrews) took the blame, given a sentence that was promptly commuted by the president.

Based on books by both Wilson and Plame, Fair Game combines good coverage of historic events with an attempt to show the personal challenges on them as individuals and to their marriage. Despite good performances, the movie seemed a bit too long; cutting back on domestic scenes would have tightened it up and maintained tension better. However, I did find it interesting how the public was shown reacting to the stories fed to them.


Consensus: Although Doug Liman’s Fair Game is a fine dramatization of an interesting political story, it ultimately feels overlong at 108-minutes and lacks a true sense of suspense.  **3/4 (Out of 4)

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