Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
100 Greatest Characters
Your all-time favourite heroes and villains
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save 44%
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Naomi Watts
Sean Penn
Ty Burrell.
Directors
Screenwriters
Jez Butterworth
John-Henry Butterworth.
Running Time
108 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Vacation
2 Star Empire Rating
Strange Magic
2 Star Empire Rating
Looking For Love
3 Star Empire Rating
Pressure
3 Star Empire Rating
Misery Loves Comedy
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Mad Max: Fury Road
5 Star Empire Rating

Fair Game
No, not the Cindy Crawford one...


submit to reddit


Plot
In 2002, the CIA sends former ambassador Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) to Niger to investigate a possible sale of uranium to Saddam Hussein. Wilson reports that the sale didn't happen, and publicly protests when President Bush persists in using it as a justification for his Iraq War. Then news leak outs Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts), is a CIA agent.


Review
Fair Game
Though Paul Greengrass took over for the sequels, Doug Liman directed The Bourne Identity, and is thus responsible for the current state of the espionage thriller. This is a companion-piece to Greengrass’ Green Zone, applying the style of Robert Ludlum conspiracy nonsense to the all-too-true hash of the Iraq War where, in these films at least, the reasoned, pragmatic, surprisingly sensible advice of the CIA was junked by rabid administration hawks in a scramble to find an excuse to blast Saddam Hussein.

Fair Game — blandly using a title from half a dozen other movies — is about the odd affair of The Ambassador, his wife The Spy and The White House Fixer. Given that the spat was mostly expressed in newspaper op-ed pieces and registered as a footnote to the greater farce of the search for non-existent weapons of mass destruction, Liman and screenwriter Jez Butterworth have to explain abstruse circumstances and ground them in human drama. Valerie (Naomi Watts) is seen in the field, making and manipulating contacts, then as a working suburban wife and mother with a distinguished but at-a-loose-end husband (Sean Penn). When her real job is publicly revealed, it causes chaos in her social and married life… but there are dark hints of a body-count around the world as her cases are dropped or mishandled (a list of Iraqi nuclear scientists she hopes to recruit is passed on to Mossad, who assassinate them instead).

It’s a showcase for star actors. Watts does well as essentially a realistic version of Evelyn Salt, coolly handling shady deals but also hosting suburban dinner parties properly. Penn (a vocal opponent of the war) gives Wilson a slight blowhard air which makes him interestingly unsympathetic, even when he’s in the right. If the ‘villains’ — David Andrews’ pursed-lips Scooter Libby — come across as cartoons, then they did in news footage too. The problem is, when global crisis puts stress on the couple’s marriage, it’s hard to care about their arguments while people get killed (or forgotten) offscreen.


Verdict
In the filmography of liberal-skewing, Bush-era true stories, this is a measured, persuasive item. It's questionable whether there's an appetite for hanging out more of the last decade's dirty laundry to dry in the multiplexes or 'For Your Consideration' awards bids, though.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Fair Game
Empire Star Rating

Fair Game: Review

Fair Game is a very good film. It has a really interesting story and the actors do an excellent performance for this character. My only problem with this film is the fact the story can go a bit too fast between scene to scene and it leaves you wondering what actually happened. I would recommend to go see this film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edward9630 at 02:41, 08 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Dull !

Saw this yesterday. Thoguht it was quite good. Its points would have got across better had it been a documentry, though. ... More

Posted by nhassell at 16:30, 13 March 2011 | Report This Post


Dull !

Found this really tedious and uninvolving. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shaun666 at 22:39, 11 March 2011 | Report This Post


4 stars

saw a preview screening a few weeks ago and can thoroughly recommend this movie. Watts and Penn are excellent. Easily a 4 star movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by redman at 19:00, 08 March 2011 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Black Mass Trailer Breakdown With Director Scott Cooper
Find out what's what with Johnny Depp's take on Boston Gangster Whitey Bulger

The N.W.A-Team
Empire visits the set of Straight Outta Compton

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Read Empire's official verdict

Empire Meets Joely Richardson
On Maggie, Arnie and Event Horizon

100 Greatest Movie Characters
The complete list of your all-time favourite heroes and villains

Vote Now For Your Favourite TV Shows
Pick your top five - if you can...

Paul Rudd Is Awesome
Being awesome: from Clueless to Ant-Man

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month!

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 67%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)