DVD Review of Fair Game: If you can handle the shaky-cam sequences, you’ll be rewarded with a captivating inside look into the lives of outed CIA Operative Valerie Plame and her husband, outspoken diplomat Joe Wilson.
All relationships require work. But imagine if you never knew where your spouse or significant other was — if when they left for “work” in the morning, you had no idea whether they’d be flying halfway around the world, or heading into a situation where they could easily be killed. Such was the marriage of CIA operative Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) and US diplomat Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) — the real-life couple behind headlines you might recall from eight years ago.
A quick refresher: In 2002, the US government was concerned that Saddam Hussein had purchased large amounts of uranium from Niger. The CIA sent Joe Wilson, who had a lot of experience in this area of the world, to Africa in order to get the real scoop. He came back and reported that he didn’t believe such a huge purchase could have been made without anyone he spoke to having a record of it — or ever seeing the actual transportation of uranium across the barren Niger countryside. The Bush administration did not like that answer. The United States invaded Iraq in March 2003.
Shortly thereafter, Wilson wrote a series of articles indicating that we went to war under faulty assumptions. In July 2003, eight days after one of Wilson’s pieces ran, the Washington Post identified Wilson’s wife as a CIA agent… and then an ensuing investigation later tied the leak back to Karl Rove and “Scooter” Libby, high-ranking members of the Bush administration. But it was too little, too late for Plame. As soon as she was outed, her entire career came to a screeching halt.
Fair Game takes us across the world with Plame in the months leading up to her dismissal. We see how she managed a series of intricate operations, how she risked her life on a daily basis, and how she was trying to save the lives of many others who were helping the US government uncover the truth and prevent nuclear materials (as well as nuclear scientists) from falling into the wrong hands. On top of this, she attempted to be a wife, and a mother… and host or attend the occasional dinner party for friends. The movie is provides an incredible look inside a household and a life that is incredibly different from the vast majority of Americans’.
I don’t consider Fair Game to be an intensely political film simply because it’s not pushing an agenda. It’s just recreating what happened. Like it or not, the ugly stuff depicted went down in the highest levels of our government. I wish that director Doug Liman (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Identity) had chosen not to employ so many shaky-cam sequences and quickly moving close-ups as the story unfolded, however, because I found much of the film literally hard to watch. I suppose it says something about the subject matter and the performances of Watts and Penn that I suffered through bouts of nausea in order to see how Liman chose to wrap everything up. (On that note, I got what I was hoping for, at least: some footage of the real Valerie Plame.)
Fair Game is an important film for people to see. I’m not political in the slightest, but I do consider myself a realist. And the reality is that when people in power have a strong motivation to bend the truth and they follow through on doing so, everyone loses… and the lives of hundreds of people — whose names and faces the general public will never know — are ruined.
Fair Game is now available at redbox. Reserve a copy!