Movie review: ‘Fair Game’ penetrates veil of spy game, dirty politics
As well as parting the curtain of secrecy that shrouds most Central Intelligence Agency operations, director Doug Liman’s low-keyed “Fair Game” effectively peeks into the private lives of outed spy Valerie Plame and her diplomat husband Joe Wilson after they became targets of a White House smear campaign in the months surrounding the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Relying on court-documented facts of the case, as well as private insights provided by both Plame and Wilson in subsequent books, the script by bother scribes Jez and John-Henry Butterworth attempts to balance the headline-sizzling story of political chicanery with the intimate details of the couple’s ordeal once they became pawns in a Bush administration push to sell the Iraq war.
The details of the public story will be painfully familiar to American news watchers: In 2002, Joseph Wilson, former U.S. Ambassador to Niger, was dispatched by the government to Africa to confirm reports that Iraq had purchased large quantities of yellowcake uranium that could be used to produce nuclear weapons. Wilson concluded the reports were groundless, but White House officials ignored his findings and spun the facts in favor of war.
Outraged by the administration’s distortion of his fact-finding mission, the outspoken Wilson penned a New York Times op-ed piece telling his conclusions. This clearly enraged certain administration hawks with close ties to Vice President Dick Cheney’s office (read that: Karl Rove and Lewis “Scooter” Libby).
Shortly after, Wilson’s wife, covert CIA operative Valerie Plame’s secret identity was leaked to high-profile Washington journalists, essentially ruining her effectiveness as an agent and ending her career. In the protracted investigations and trials that followed, Rove was widely quoted as saying that in the rough-and-tumble of political battle, Plame had become “fair game” for war proponents.
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