Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House (PG13)
Starring Liam Neeson, Diane Lane, Tony Goldwyn
Directed by Peter Landesman
For more than 30 years, the term ‘Deep Throat’ is synonymous to two things in pop culture — a certain notorious por…ahem, adult film, and the nickname for the informant who leaked intel to Washington Post journos Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about the break-in at the Democratic HQ in the Watergate Hotel that ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.
This political thriller is about the latter Deep Throat, whose identity was later revealed in 2005 as FBI’s then-Deputy Assistant Director Mark Felt, and examines the reasons that drove the dedicated G-man (a magnetic Liam Neeson) to become a whistleblower.
Was it patriotism? (The straight arrow couldn’t stand idly by and let the POTUS meddle in the investigations.) Or was it pettiness? (He was sidelined by Tricky Dicky for a promotion after his boss J Edgar Hoover’s death.)
Writer-director Peter Landesman (Concussion) leaves that to the viewers to figure out. Actually, he also expects the audience to read up on all things Watergate (see sidebar). Because if they don’t, they’ll have a tough time tracking the names, places and events. (There’s a superfluous sub-plot involving Felt’s runaway daughter, who may have joined a domestic terrorist group called the Weather Underground, that may confuse things a bit.)
For history buffs, the movie, while gripping for most parts, echoes like a weaker B-side to Alan J Pakula’s All the President’s Men, the 1976 Watergate thriller told from Woodward and Bernstein’s perspectives.
Still, if you keep up with current affairs, you can’t help but draw an eerie parallel to how the current White House administration is dealing with Russia’s alleged interference in last year’s presidential elections. We all know how the Watergate scandal ended. So will history repeat itself? Hmmm... (***)
Before you see Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House, you should watch these first…
All The President’s Men (1976)
The Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman-starring thriller is still the gold standard by which all stories about investigative journalism are measured.
J. Edgar (2011)
Clint Eastwood’s J Edgar Hoover biopic is interesting until Leonardo DiCaprio (as the FBI boss) shows up as a poorly made-up old man.
The Weather Underground (2002)
Oscar-nominated docu about the 1970s radical group The Weathermen that led an armed struggle against the US government.
Anthony Hopkins gives an unimpeachable performance as the 37th US President who thinks he’s unimpeachable in Oliver Stone’s epic biopic.