Review: Fair Game

Though cinema screens are still mostly taken up with The King's Speech and The Fighter, this is the time when the year's failed Oscar pleaders limp across the Atlantic, films like Fair Game.

It's a perfectly fine film but you can see why nobody is really interested.

This telling of how a covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts, resembling more than ever the actress that would emerge if Nicole Kidman's shell split), had her cover blown and reputation trashed by her own government in revenge for her husband revealing the lies behind the Iraq War.

Director Doug Liman gives it as much zest as he can but it feels like an urgent delivery of old news.

Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) is a former ambassador sent to Niger to check up on an intelligence report that Saddam had purchased a large quantity of uranium from there. he found no evidence for it so was a bit surprised when Bush included it in his State of the union address as evidence of Saddam's quest for WMDs.

He was so enraged by it that he wrote about it in the New York Post, not realising what the repercussions would be for his wife and family.

The film's portrait of Wilson is ambiguous and it does at least suggest that Wilson, largely sidelined after an impressive diplomatic career, might have been partly motivated by a desire to recapture the limelight.

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But by the end though he is seen as a sanctified whistleblower, a figure of truth.

At the end, in what may be the quintessential Sean Penn scene, he gets to hector the American people (or at least the tiny fraction that went to see Fair game) on their civic responsibilities.

Fair Game (15)

Director: Doug Liman

With: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, David Andrews, Michael Kelly, Noah Emmerich and Bruce McGill

Length: 106 mins