Jeremy Renner is not the only reason to see “Kill The Messenger” but it is a very compelling one. He captures the essence of a man that with time, may become one of the most celebrated investigative journalists of late twentieth century America. Idealistic and devoted to his family, his readers and to the truth, nonetheless he had flaws, and cracks in his persona, as so many talented and even great men often have.
But even with warnings coming from every front, he had the will, pride, or more likely the compulsion to never give up, to keep going when more timid or wiser heads would have turned back.
Jeremy Renner plays the part of a real life journalist, Gary Webb, who in the 1990’s stumbled onto the CIA connection to the Nicaraguan Contras and their cocaine smuggling operations into the United States; especially into Los Angeles and Southern California. A little history may be in order here.
The CIA eventually admitted the main contention of Gary Webb in 1998. That is that the Nicaraguan Contras were smuggling cocaine into Los Angeles and California, and that the CIA turned a blind eye to their activities. The Press ignored it, they were all consumed by Clinton-Lewinsky scandal at the time
CIA connections to drug smuggling go way back, some say to World War 2 and the days of Lucky Luciano, when the OSS (The Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, made common cause with the Sicilian-American mobster, In this short review we can’t cover the entire history of the CIA and its origins, but for those who would like to look into it, the family, political and financial connections go back to the opium wars with China in the 19th century. Also the CIA and “Air America” from Vietnam in the 1960’s Go back far enough, and the same great merchant families that engaged in commerce, also financed piracy as well. Perhaps the reader has heard of “full spectrum dominance, and “working both ends against the middle.”
We then move through Yale University and the fraternity of “Skull and Bones” and the creation of the national security state in 1947 with the official initiation of the CIA.
So while there have been many leakers, and CIA registered Cocaine planes have crashed and have been documented as belonging to the CIA, and so on and on and on… Many exposés have been crushed also under the umbrella of National Security or through various other methods. Character assassination has been a very common tool to hush things up, and “The Company” shills and plants in the media have always been another. And character assassination was not the only kind of assassination either. The Agency in a way has done an amazing job at this, as still many Americans believe that there is a free press in the United States, and that major media can be trusted.
Whether Gary Webb believed that he could survive the wrath of the CIA, or that he was just so committed that he couldn’t be backed off, the answer died with him when he put two bullets in his brain during his ‘suicide’.
The film leaves the obvious questions that such a so-called suicide raises to the audience to make their own decisions.
The film is well acted there are more than a few tense scenes. As the story in “Kill The Messenger” is history, we know what is coming next; thereby removing some of the suspense. But as the story, or more aptly, the tragedy moves apace, the sense of impending doom moves as well, much like the march of the executioners boots sounds on his final round to the cell of the condemned man.
As a mass of major American newspapers and media turn on Gary Webb, like wolves on a wounded pack member, we gasp in horror at their perfidy and envy, and their slavish lapping upon the hand of the National Security State.
So while “Kill The Messenger” could be called a downer movie, still viewed from the long travail of history, it is uplifting. Gary Webb was a hero to the people trapped in the crack cocaine inner cities of America, and it put a significant dent in the death machine of the American Drug War.
Every unjust death brings due a demand for retribution and for payment, and Gary Webb did not die in vain.
Gary Webb is gone, but his story should not die.