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Mark Felt movie review: Liam Neeson's turn as iconic whistleblower falls flat

Ranjan Crasta | Updated on: 8 December 2017, 18:15 IST

With the firing of James Comey and the ongoing investigation of Donald Trump by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently an organisation in turmoil.

With this being the case, Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House could hardly have come at a better time. The movie, based on the autobiography of former associate director of the FBI Mark Felt (Liam Neeson), tells the story of Felt’s role in exposing the Watergate scandal. Felt's narrative - of loyalty to the agency, its ideals and duties, is a timely reminder of the importance of integrity in the face of moral and ethical bankruptcy.

However, from scripting to performance, the film ends up decidedly one dimensional.

Predictable and played out

Granted, almost everyone knows how the events of Watergate. However, that isn't what I mean when I say the film is predictable. Rather, the narrative, characters and dialogue are so unimaginative and, at times, cliched, that there is no room for suspense, tension or excitement.

Take the titular character, for example. Given that the film is based on Felt’s autobiography, it should come as no surprise that Felt is depicted as  a saintly crusader for the truth. However, even with that being the case, Neeson’s portrayal lacks depth. Perhaps Felt was actually as straight-laced as Neeson portrays him, but the character’s rigid and unfailing adherence to idealism makes him seem almost robotic.

Glimpses into Felt’s domestic life also do little to develop the character. Random scenes of Felt dancing with his wife (Diane Lane) or painting by his pool do little to improve either the character or the film. The movie even throws in a completely unrelated story arc of Felt's missing daughter,  pointing to a lack of directorial direction.

While there is no truly bad performance in the movie, the fact that there is no subtlety in the film dooms the entire cast of characters to mediocrity. Lumbered with silly reactions and clunky, poorly written dialogue, they make up numbers but add little else.

Should you see it?

Probably not. Clocking in at under two hours, the movie still manages to bore. If this is your only viewing option at the neighbourhood theatre, just Netflix and chill instead.

Rating: 2/5

First published: 8 December 2017, 18:15 IST