Film Review

‘The Independent Review: John Cena, Jodie TurnerSmith And Brian Cox In Tepid Political Thriller


‘The Independent Review: John Cena, Jodie TurnerSmith And Brian Cox In Tepid Political Thriller

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‘The Independent Review: John Cena, Jodie TurnerSmith And Brian Cox In Tepid Political Thriller
‘The Independent Review: John Cena, Jodie TurnerSmith And Brian Cox In Tepid Political Thriller

You can't blame Peacock for leaving The Independent a week before the all-important 2022 election. You can't even argue against the premise of a thriller in our modern political reality, in which an inexperienced grassroots candidate can rise from underdog to leader, offering a way out of the seemingly workable stalemate of American bipartisanship by igniting one side. . others "sit and whine." It remains an open question whether vote-weary audiences will be attracted to the subtle but superficial portrayal of political moral elasticity and truth that journalism silences.

This feature-length debut from documentary filmmaker Amy Rice (HBO 's The People: The Election of Barack Obama ) is pretty solid compared to most live-action releases. But, of course, that is not a high level. While newcomer Evan Parter's script for The Blacklist has an explicitly nice economy of scenes, it has too many cinematic exchanges to offer a truly provocative spin on the Beltway crime thriller.

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Another problem with this film is the disparity of the main actors. No one is complaining that Brian Cox brought in veteran Washington, DC political commentator Brian Cox to build the latest bombshell to break out of the fallen free press establishment. Also tough but pragmatic Republican Senator Anne Dowd of Tennessee (think Marsha Blackburn with her stick and brains) who wants to be the first woman in the Oval Office.

But Jody Turner-Smith and John Cena, as enterprising journalists looking to finish the last page and independent contenders for the country party ticket, respectively, could not tarnish the two protagonists.

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Speaking at campaign events is an effective idea. Nate Sterling (Senna) is a former decathlete and Olympic gold medalist whose best-selling manifesto, the Declaration of Independence , shook up the race. Her humanity and habit of telling things through the disappointed but still hopeful eyes of her 21-year-old daughter made her a credible alternative to Sterling Dowdy's Patricia Turnbull, who won favor with moderate voters; and current Democratic president Archer (Victor Slezak), a lame duck, a character so weak it doesn't matter.

Entering politics only a year ago, Sterling paints a grim but all-too-familiar picture of a country embroiled in two long and costly wars. significant reduction; deadly global pandemic; exploding class; climate change; and the terrible vision of the besieged Capitol. The message is that America has always been aware of this and must continue to do so for its young people. But doubts remain whether an independent can win in a two-party state, even if his opponent is the lesser of two evils.

Under the hood of DC's progressive newspaper, The Washington Chronicle , stubborn editor Gordon White (Stephen Lang) warns the assembled staff that the new owners of the latest cast are planning a major overhaul, and those who can't deliver will. they lose their jobs.

While a defenseless senior reporter remains silent, ambitious subordinate Eli James (Turner-Smith) steps forward to tell the story of education funding cuts that have forced low-income West Virginia school districts to take four days a week. White is skeptical that "the banjo picker" will be of much interest to casual readers, but admits that it could be something by taking the story out from under Eli and putting it in the hands of experienced reporters.

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However, Eli gets a breather when influential but jaded columnist Nicholas Booker (Cox) recognizes his talent. Juggling a messy divorce and imposing orders as a television political pundit, he secretly prepared his resignation after the election. He hired her as a stand-in for the remaining weeks of her column and promised to campaign for her promotion before clearing the table. Eli may finally surprise her, though her access to sensitive information through a romantic relationship with Sterling's campaign strategist Lucas Nicol (Luke Kirby) causes tension at home.

The film is attractive enough, even if it lacks visual variety outside of the usual dark and bleak setting and relies too heavily on Jessica Rose Weiss's music to give weight to unexpected emotional moments and quick intrigue. . Director Rice did his job, but Alan J. not Pakula.

In fact, the conspiracy seems too simple, with Eli attributing the unheard-of abnormal drop in lottery jackpots during the recession to school budget cuts, big campaign sponsors and shadowy super PACs. Eli's career is also in jeopardy as he deals with the difficult situation of Lucas and his charming activist father (Willie S. Carpenter) who are undergoing cancer treatment. Parterre's conversation is interrupted intermittently when Booker asks if Sterling's candidacy is pointless; click on

Even with hints of a passing American accent, Turner-Smith excels in the lead, though she never quite captures the ingenuity that makes Eli such an underrated force. He's just as fit as Cena, but not more so. He has useful and desirable qualities, not to mention physical presence, in a field where looks count more than substance to be considered a political star.

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The film comes alive when Cox reveals his bulldog persona or when Dowd reveals a cheating player hiding behind an arrogant bully, a character drawn with welcome humility. Lang is persistent enough, like a lifelong journalist, to turn his attention to the bottom line when his ethics break and change the course of a threatened profession. And the always great Kirby plays another character solidly.

All of this makes The Independent quite fun, even if the appeal of the fourth act isn't as surprising as a mechanical revelation. In the midst of national political emotion and so many television programs devoted to journalistic concessions (from the Vice President to the House of Cards to the Editor ), deeper writing is needed to confirm or reaffirm our collective cynicism about voter fraud. We believe in the power of heroism in journalism.

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