I missed this film when it played in cinemas here in Malaysia – slightly surprising it did, by the way, considering it is an under-the-radar movie even in the States with serious political and nearly-current affairs content (meaning difficult-to-penetrate dialogue that is full of specific jargon and references) that would've glazed over the mushy brains of most Malaysians ... except for the fact that the movie opens in Kuala Lumpur. Obviously that's reason enough. Except Malaysians probably didn't bother to come out to watch the movie either, coz it's only in the newspaper reviews that you find out this little fact. And how many people read those? (If you do, please don't anymore.)
For the fact is, this is an IMPORTANT film. With caps.
What is it about? The film explains it all, so I shan't tell you. If you're a learned Malaysian, you would at least have heard the names, had a very vague idea of this scandal, and didn't much care about it. Well I'm speaking for myself anyway. Otherwise, the name Valerie Plame will light up as much of a lightbulb on your head as the name Altantuya would beyond Malaysia.
And if you're anything like me, you'd be angry.
Angry at the injustices committed, with such wide-ranging repercussions involving the life and death of innocents. Heartbreakingly so.
At one point in the film, the film conjures up the polarisation between the conservatives and the liberals when an irate reporter messes up a lunch meeting of one of the protagonists by calling him names, and I feel like I would love to see the conservative media with all their stupidity and obsequiousness put away for the sake of humanity.
Meanwhile, there are some important (that is, righteous) speeches buried within the film. One of them:
The responsibility of a country is not in the hands of a privileged few. We are strong and we are free from tyranny, as long as each one of us remembers his or her duty as a citizen, whether it's to report a pothole at the top of your street, or lies in the State of the Union address. Speak out! Ask those questions! Demand that truth!
This is where we live. And if we do our job, this is where our children will live.
And may you think of your own country when you read that.
One more point to mention. The film was directed by Doug Liman, who directed the first of the Bourne films, and this is interesting because Paul Greengrass, who directed the next two Bourne films, came up with Green Zone last year, which shares a similar theme about exposing US government wrongdoing in setting up the case for war, the difference of course being that one is set in the battlefield and the other in home ground. Both also share the same composer, John Powell, though his music is a bit more low-key in Fair Game.