Mark Felt Story
: Mark Felt was an FBI agent
who uncovered the Watergate scandal in 1972.
Mark Felt Review
: The titular character 'Mark Felt' (Liam Neeson) was an FBI agent who passed on vital information to reporters at The Washington Post. This uncovered the Watergate scandal, leading to the eventual resignation of Richard Nixon as the American President. For many years, the most infamous whistleblower in American history was only known by the pseudonym Deep Throat, and Mark Felt's true identity was only revealed 11 years after Nixon's death in an autobiography. At the outset, this sounds like the perfect political thriller because after all - truth is stranger than fiction. Along with a reputable ensemble of actors such as Diane Lane, Michael C. Hall, Tom Sizemore, and Bruce Greenwood amongst others, it's been a while since Liam Neeson flexed this particular set of acting skills, so this film held a lot of promise.
Unfortunately, while their performances are intriguing at best, they all appear to be misplaced in this biographical drama. Blame it largely on shoddy writing and direction by Peter Landesman, who appears to be out of his depth handling the complex series of cloak and dagger events within the short runtime of a feature-length film. Perhaps this would have worked better as a mini-series adaptation on television. What we're left with is a rushed, and lacklustre retelling of how the White House toppled over itself trying to cover up the scandal. It sorely lacks the tension and momentum building up to Nixon stepping down, primarily because it fails to establish the gravity of the role played by Felt. Neeson tries his best to bring some emotional weight by giving us some insight into Felt's personal life, thereby trying to uncover his motivations. But the scenes with his family come across pale and colourless, adding to the disconnect between the audience and his thought process. Diane Lane is particularly underutilized as Audrey Felt while most of the cast seemingly play their roles in isolation.
It also doesn't help that the colour palette is consistently dark and gloomy; meant to add some sense of dread it ends up crossing the fine line into being dreary. There's absolutely no problem with slow, measured and deliberate pacing, but when the runtime of an hour and forty-five minutes feels long-drawn, there's a problem with engaging your audience. The result is the textbook definition of a missed opportunity.