Rated: PG-13 for some language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: October 29, 2017 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
A potentially fascinating (limited) biographical drama (with supporting appearances by the likes of Tony Goldwyn and Bruce Greenwood) makes one pine for a poignantly thrilling 1976 Robert Redford/Dustin Hoffman collaboration about the infamous Watergate break-in and its fallout.
"Mark Felt: The Man Who Took Down The White House" could very well have relevance in light of the current administration under which names like James Comey and Robert Mueller have significance in part due to the controversy over last year's U.S. Presidential Election.
But, the wealth of material to be drawn from and its presentation feels more sketchy and muted than it should have been even if Liam Neeson has his moments as longtime FBI special agent Felt who finally revealed himself as "Deep Throat" in 2005 (three years before his death) - the whistleblower which The Washington Post and Time Magazine capitalized on.
A monotony is often prevalent when not privy to the 'inner circle politics' from Felt's precarious milieu - how the government and bureau interacted relative to their functionality - that was infuriating especially after J. Edgar Hoover's passing and L. Patrick Gray (a devious Marton Csokas) selected for the coveted position. Gray would be bound to the 'tricky' Commander-In-Chief not shown in this telling where the filmmakers essentially aggrandize Felt.
It would have nice to have Neeson project more than a watchable modulated, if subdued turn with more intensity when it concerns estranged daughter (Maika Monroe) apparently connected to a radical organization - The Weather Underground. Diane Lane is part of that strand of as Felt's contemptuous, embittered alcoholic wife Audrey who would later go on to commit suicide. Nevertheless, it distracts from what presumably is the main focus less than presumptuously handled by writer/director Peter Landesman ("Concussion", "Parkland").
"The Man Who Took Down The White House" (it's a wordy subtitle) doesn't really let a seasoned Neeson make Felt the highly wrought and skillful informer he really was (glossing over what went into certain decisions/mindsets and subsequently illegal activities that would yield a pardon by President Reagan). Landesman's mostly anemic effort around classified information lacks a necessary vitality which won't please Watergate buffs or those unfamiliar with what in smoky rooms and in private meetings. Kind of left in the shadows like Felt in a parking garage with a young-looking Bob Woodward (Julian Morris).
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