Fair Game

Fair Game

In Theatres: 
Nov 05, 2010
Running Time: 
104 min

Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe were originally lined up to star in Fair Game.

Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) is your ordinary housemother. A loving husband, two beautiful children and a successful job. Oh yeah, that job? A little organization called the Central Intelligence Agency. AKA, the CIA.  Based on the true story of CIA operative Valerie Plame, Fair Game covers the rise and fall of the U.S government's decisions between 2002 and 2007. 

After the almost forced recommendation of her husbands', Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), qualifications, Valerie watches as her husband is sent to Niger to uncover the use of aluminum tubes recovered by the U.S. Upon WIlsons' return to American soil, his research proves that no aluminum tubes were used for a matter of W.M.D's (Weapons of Mass Destruction). However, the U.S government isn't so easily convinced. Just months later, President Bush gives his State of the Union Address and announces the recovered tubes are tools designed for W.M.D's. While Wilson writes up an article in response to the "false" accusation by President Bush, Valerie travels to Iraq to gather information from local scientists about their nuclear weapons program. When she returns, she is met with a newspaper article that not only jeopardizes her career but changes her social life forever: the public release of Valerie Plame's position at the CIA. With a war brewing between Iraq and the U.S, Plame is considered "fair game" by the government and is seen as a terrorist in the eyes of her fellow Americans. 

Confused at all by that description? It would be hard to say I wasn't a little confused just watching the film. Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) does a good job of piecing the events leading to the exposing of Valeries' name and position, but fails to truly make the material understood. See, Valerie almost seems humanitarian with how she handles her job. Her husband, on the other hand, treats it more as a science and works it into his existing beliefs on politics. To say the least, Sean Penn was a damn good pick for this character just based on his prior political movie roles (I.E Milk and All The Kings Men). Penn delivers a great performance regardless of the political stance of the character Wilson. Watts also puts on a good performance although she has done a very similar role before (The International). 

The main complaint I have of Fair Game is the build-up to the climax of the story. Truth is, the story of Valerie Plame is a long and complex one and requires a deal of back story. In fact, make that an hour of back story. I found myself very bored about 30 minutes into the runtime as all we were seeing was Wilson and Plame traveling in and out of the U.S. Once the runtime hits about an hour, problems start to arise for everyone. This isn't always an issue, however. Look at the swedish thriller, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: The climax of the film doesn't really present itself until nearly halfway through it's 2 hour runtime. And it works quite perfectly. Sadly, Fair Game doesn't share this rare feat. 

Fair Game is a good thriller for moviegoers who have an interest in politics and want to know more about the true story of Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson. However, for those see the directors' past film as a sign of how Fair Game may turn out, be warned: There's not much to identify here. 


Ryan Sterritt
Review by Ryan Sterritt
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook