Mr. Movie

'Fair Game' better than fair look at Plame, Wilson

It took a surprising amount of time and a request from a Tri-City Herald reader to get this November 2010 release to a Tri-Cities screen.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Before Wiki leaks and Julian Assange and a few years earlier, the case of Valerie Plame dominated the news.

Her leak didn’t come from government documents. She was a CIA operative outed by the Bush administration after her diplomat husband openly questioned the evidence of weapons of mass destruction that led to the invasion of Iraq.

Naomi Watts stars as Plame and Sean Penn does her husband Joe Wilson. Both are great actors who get wonderful help from David Andrews having fun as the villain, and the administration’s fall guy Scooter Libby.

Fair Game is based on her book and Wilson’s. So you get his point of view and hers. Their relationship is fascinating. Wilson is frustrated because his wife disappears for days at a time to places and to events she cannot talk about.

They banter in unsolvable philosophical circles debating duty vs. deception. She sees it one way, he another.

Some of the most fascinating conversations take place at dinner parties and at gatherings with friends. Plame tries to stay clear of controversial topics. Wilson eggs her on by steering all conversation that direction.

The outing and the black and white politics of a go-for-broke administration is where director Doug Liman ( The Bourne Identity) struggles with the material. A screenplay that speaks for itself and doesn’t need much nudging is tainted by sometimes preachy dialogue and an unnecessary punchline monologue by Penn at the end of the film.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens Friday, Jan. 28 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.