Fair Game (UK - BD RB)
Marcus is beginning to think the war in Iraq may have been a little bit dodgy...
Fair Game, the sexy action thriller starring William Baldwin as Detective Max Kirkpatrick and supermodel Cindy Crawford as... no wait. That’s the other Fair Game isn’t it? This Fair Game is the biographical thriller about CIA agent Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) and how her own U.S. government outed her to the public in order to keep her husband, Joseph C. Wilson's (Sean Penn), claims that the reason to go to war was unfounded out of the spotlight and to keep the war on Iraq running along without question.
9/11 and every incident that followed has certainly picked up the movie baton from the JFK questions and the Nixon scandals and ran with it hasn’t it? Every year there seems to be another Hollywood insight into how corrupt America’s foreign policy is or how the road to war was littered with personal agendas and if I’m honest I still find all of this stuff utterly fascinating.
Fair Game plays big for the most part. Valerie Plame is running around doing her CIA thing and we have Chief of Staff, CIA heads and covert missions doing what they do in fairly typical big screen fashion but when the Valerie gets outed everything suddenly becomes very confined and that feeling that she’s done nothing wrong and is now genuinely at risk hits hard. Director Doug Liman doesn’t lean on the clichés too hard; the paranoia that Valerie must have had, what with what seems like the whole world against her, isn’t played as a suspenseful element of the film too much. Instead the focus stays firmly on a couple of other areas: her husband fighting to have the truth heard and Valerie battling internally with the dilemma of how much of her life is falling apart because she’s trying to remain loyal to her agency’s protocols.
The “facts” about the reasons to go to war are presented well, sometimes within discussions, sometimes with behind closed doors at the White House but Fair Game goes all out with its anti-war message. Government lies are laid out clearly, how data was cherry picked and fed to the press is put under the spotlight throughout and of course how this war affected the people of Iraq all puts this war with an agenda under a heavy hitting level of scrutiny as it should be.
Beyond looking extremely clean and crisp (a trait you don’t really see in movies that are shot hand held), Fair Game has a soft creamy look to it, sort of like the top of a frothy coffee. This generally means everything is beige or light brown and a bit cool to look at, but it really makes the odd colour pop. Naomi’s blue eyes are really striking here as are a few CIA agents' blue shirts. When we hit the exterior scenes, especially Iraq and Niger, this creamy appearance is bathed in light and this really brings out the detail. Every line on every character's face is on show. Blemishes, scars, stubble, everything has definition and I don’t know whether it’s just because the last film I reviewed was Don’t Look Now and that transfer was less than pleasing but Fair Game offered up one of the best HD transfers I’d seen in a while.
There’s the odd scene where the creamy tone is less effective, a short funeral scene has a peachy filtered look to it and everyone and everything looks odd but outside of that one hiccup everything here looks fantastic—from the war torn streets of Iraq to the city streets of Washington D.C. This is a fantastic looking presentation.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track rocks from the opening scene. The track is full of atmospheric sounds—footsteps in an office, chatting, the lot. Dialogue is crisp and when the Gorillaz song kicks off in the opening credits the entire speaker system is used for a very powerful presentation.
This continues throughout the track, with the atmosphere creating rear speakers sometimes equalling or outdoing the power of the dialogue in the front speakers. This is either intentional, to make sure you pay attention to the dialogue or the rears are a touch too high, but I found it made me concentrate on the dialogue more, so I didn’t take too much of an issue with it.
The only extra is the commentary from the real Valerie Plame and her husband Joseph C. Wilson. This makes for a very interesting listen and it’s surprisingly light considering how much their lives must have been torn apart. The pair comments about the scenes and expand on further details in the real events. They share a few laughs and throw in the odd sarcastic insights about the people that destroyed this part of their life and even offer up the conversations they had with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn when making the movie. There’s the odd quiet moment but generally this track offers up an expanded insight into the couple’s tale and is surprisingly warm and enjoyable.
Fair Game was another compelling watch that highlights the corruption within our world leaders' decisions. However this film falls more on how Valerie Plame’s life was turned upside down as opposed to what the endgame of the war was, showing that even the U.S.’s own people were mistreated for the “greater good”. I really enjoyed the movie and its two lead performers kept to their usual high standards.
The disc itself has a fantastic A/V presentation and despite there only being a commentary in the extras department, it’s a fine companion piece to this story.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 11th July 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn
Genre: Drama and War
Length: 108 minutes
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