Kill The Messenger

Featured In Issue 194, February 2015

WSR Score4.5
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Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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Michael Cuesta
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Kill The Messenger is based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb (Renner). In the 1990s, this dedicated reporter's quest for the truth took him from the prisons of California to the villages of Nicaragua to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.––and his investigative reporting drew the kind of attention that threatened not just his career but his family and his life. Webb himself becomes the story and a target, as jealous rival reporters who missed the story move to discredit his work and reputation in an increasingly vicious smear campaign. His wife Sue (DeWitt) tries to stand by him even as, despite warnings from drug kingpins and menacing surveillance intended to deter his investigation, Webb keeps digging to prove a direct link between cocaine smugglers and the CIA, a conspiracy with explosive implications. Based upon the books Dark Alliance by Gary Webb and Kill The Messenger by Nick Schou.

Special features include commentary with Director Michael Cuesta, six deleted scenes with optional commentary by Cuesta (HD 09:05), the featurettes The All-Star Cast (HD 02:31) and Crack In America (HD 02:51), Filming In Georgia (HD 02:09), upfront previews, and an UltraViolet digital copy.

The 2.39:1 1080p AVC picture, photographed in Super 16, exhibits a natural but slightly gritty appearance. The color palette is naturally hued, with fleshtones pushed. Contrast is inconsistent, with blacks often crushed and exhibiting noise, as well as shadow delineation. The gritty appearance conveys a documentary style with segments featuring real television footage, which is of generally poor quality. Resolution is generally good, though, often the focus is soft. This is a rather inconsistent picture, which depicts raw realism.

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is dialogue focused but with plenty of atmospherics and sound effects that energize the proceedings, especially as the dangerous tension builds. The music score is often energized and with an aggressive surround presence that is engaging. Deep bass in the .1 LFE channel intensifies the energy. Dialogue generally sounds natural, with decent intelligibility. At times the sound is holosonic® in presence, and at other times everything collapses to monaural. This is generally a well-crafted soundtrack with a rawness that complements the storytelling.