Fair Game (Sony Pictures) BLU-RAY REVIEW

September 20, 2011

FEW WOULD ARGUE that The Bourne Identity isn’t a cracking action thriller, a real old-fashioned seat-of-the-pants motion picture experience that uses just enough contemporary tricks to keep you immersed.
Fair Game is directed by the same guy, Doug Liman, so I was looking forward to this ‘riveting thriller’ in hi-def on my big screen in a little room (the lounge, not the toilet).
The trouble with the story is that it’s one of those ‘inspired by the experiences’ movies, in this case based on what happened to CIA officer Valerie Plame in the lead-up to the war on Iraq. Liman tries valiantly to inject the story with some action and thrills, but really, there are few to be had.
Plame (played rather unconvincingly by Naomi Watts) is tasked with finding out if Iraq really does have nuclear arms, and just as she’s getting near the truth that the beleaguered country doesn’t have anything remotely threatening to world peace, the American presidential administration engineer the falsehood that there’s not only an imminent threat, but that Iraq needs stomping on. The CIA agent and her husband (played by Sean Penn) get hung out to dry.
If it’s all true, there’s material her for a fascinating documentary, but a Hollywood movie? Not really. For one, the facts of the war on Iraq are still too fresh in the mind to grab the imagination, and for another, there’s no resolution here, happy or otherwise. Sure, Bush and his cronies were shown to have got it wrong, but the perception of the American public seems to have shifted less than perceptibly.
It’s not a totally lost cause, however. Liman is adept at juggling the various strands of Fair Game, which attempts a global reach and tells several concurrent stories with elan, and he does prevent the movie from becoming boring, despite its preponderance of grey suits in brown rooms.
It’s a great-looking movie, and particularly stunning in HD, which works as well showing the desert storms of Iraq as it does exposing the wrinkles of Watts’ brow. (Although I’m not a Watts fan, I do respect any woman who is prepared to grow old gracefully in an unforgiving medium!)
What’s amazing about such a narrative-driven story is the amount of sonic information on the 5.1 surround sound. The movie is constantly cutting back and forth from newsreel footage and there’s plenty of work for subwoofers with bombs going off and tweeters with the heavy artillery fire. And it sounds great.
Disappointingly, special features are minimal, but the audio commentary is pretty special, as it’s made by Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, rather than the actors who played them, so there are insights to be made. GARY STEEL
Movie = 3.5/5
Sound = 4.5/5
Picture = 4/5
Extras = 3/5

Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here

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