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With: Liam Neeson, Diane Lane, Marton Csokas, Tony Goldwyn, Ike Barinholtz, Josh Lucas, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kate Walsh, Brian d'Arcy James, Maika Monroe, Michael C. Hall, Tom Sizemore, Julian Morris, Bruce Greenwood, Noah Wyle
Written by: Peter Landesman, based on books by Mark Felt, John D. O'Connor
Directed by: Peter Landesman
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language
Running Time: 103
Date: 09/29/2017

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Watergate Crashing

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though Liam Neeson is commanding in his role, and though the story itself is a powerful one, this political drama eventually fails to rise above an overly explanatory and visually static presentation.

In Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, Associate Director of the FBI Mark Felt (Liam Neeson) is busy looking into attacks by radical group the Weather Underground when the news arrives that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover has died. It's 1972. Not long after, the Watergate building in Washington D.C., the headquarters for the Democratic National Committee is broken into.

Felt and his men begin investigating, believing that the break-in could lead all the way to the White House and President Nixon. But unexpectedly Felt does not get promoted, much to the dismay of his wife (Diane Lane). Worse, the newly appointed director, Pat Gray (Marton Csokas), wants the investigation shut down. So Felt decides to begin secretly leaking information to the press, specifically Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, thereby becoming the famous "Deep Throat" informer. He keeps his secret, but the leak causes great unrest in the Bureau, and Felt must eventually pay the price.

Writer/director Peter Landesman previously made two other movies based on real-life political situations, Parkland and Concussion, and both were similarly short-changed, more dedicated to explaining their messages than telling stories or getting across emotions.

The shame is that the Watergate story has been told so well a few times already, from All the President's Men (1976), Nixon (1995), and Frost/Nixon (2008), to the comedy Dick (1999), and it certainly could have been done again. But Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House can't seem to avoid endless scenes of men in rooms talking in tense tones, or worse, poor Diane Lane's Audrey Felt doing nothing but getting aggravated with her husband.

As the movie plods toward its history-changing conclusion, Landesman seems less and less aware of where to put the camera, or how to lift up the story and get it moving.

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