CRIME; 1hr 52min
STARRING: Jeremy Renner, Rosemarie DeWitt
Crusading journalists are never more courageous than when, as in the sad case of American newspaper man Gary Webb (Renner), they’re vilified and left to sink.
Webb is a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter for the San Jose Mercury News in 1995 when the scoop of a lifetime lands in his lap from the hot lips of a drug lord’s squeeze (Paz Vega). Her tip-off rocks Webb’s world as he learns that the CIA is using Nicaraguan traffickers as mass importers into LA of cocaine, the profits from the sales of which are funnelled back to Nicaragua's right-wing Contra rebels. Webb, a pussycat family guy but a terrier with a bone when in newshound mode, goes full-tilt after the story.
Based in part on Webb’s 1999 book Dark Alliance, director Michael Cuesta’s sinewy reliving rolls like a neatly patchworked thriller with Renner as its magnetic centre. A hero for breaking the scandal, Webb is swiftly denigrated by envious competitors. With his credibility now the issue, he’s hung out to dry by his own, relatively small-time publication and his marriage (to DeWitt’s Sue) takes a pounding. If only the end had justified the means: Webb’s 2004 shooting death was pronounced a suicide.