MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE

The Georgia Straight - - Movies - > KEN EISNER

Star­ring Liam Nee­son. Rated PG

Given the ob­vi­ous par­al­lels to the level 2

of in­san­ity loose in the cor­ri­dors of U.S. power to­day, this is a movie that needed to be made right now. And per­haps we’ll have to set­tle for it hav­ing been made by peo­ple who didn’t re­ally know what they were do­ing.

Liam Nee­son is a great choice to play Felt, deputy direc­tor of the FBI un­der J. Edgar Hoover, sub­se­quently re­vealed to be the anony­mous Deep Throat who helped the Washington Post’s Bob Wood­ward and Carl Bernstein bring down the pres­i­dency of Richard Nixon. With his sil­very hair, erect bear­ing, and tai­lored dark suits, he cap­tures the leo­nine self-image of a ca­reer G-man like Felt—or Bob Mueller, for that mat­ter.

The Ir­ish ac­tor’s ac­cent cer­tainly doesn’t line up with the Idaho-born Felt’s, how­ever, nor does New Zealand’s youngish Mar­ton Csokas line up par­tic­u­larly well with L. Pa­trick Gray, a craggy naval of­fi­cer and lawyer with no in­ves­tiga­tive ex­pe­ri­ence whom Nixon de­cided to in­stall in place of Hoover, who died sud­denly in early 1972, when this rather makeshift tale be­gins. It’s clear enough in the script by writer-direc­tor Peter Lan­des­man that Felt was as peeved by be­ing passed over for the top job as he was by the grow­ing aware­ness that the prez had autho­rized a cheap hack of his Demo­cratic op­po­nents in the up­com­ing elec­tion. Back then, they called that a bur­glary.

The fact that EX–CIA men were work­ing di­rectly for Tricky Dick was a big deal to Felt, and a large part of what drove those re­porters to dig deeper in All the Pres­i­dent’s Men. Ar­riv­ing 40 years later, this so-so ef­fort is in­tended as a re­verse view of events, with Wood­ward only glimpsed in a few un­der­ground scenes. But the new movie can’t quite de­cide where its fo­cus should lie. From this dis­tance, a more doc­u­men­tary ap­proach, à la Spot­light, might have helped il­lu­mi­nate some lesser-known ma­noeu­vres. But Lan­des­man shoots the whole movie in park­ing­garage light and has lots of sus­pense piano tin­kling on the sound­track. This ap­proach is at odds with the scenes of Nee­son par­ry­ing with an un­der­used Diane Lane as Felt’s ne­glected wife, and the sub­plot with their daugh­ter, who has joined a hip­pie com­mune, falls flat. They had a son, too—mark Jr.—but he’s writ­ten out of the story. The movie also shifts some of Felt’s less no­ble deeds to FBI ri­val Bill Sul­li­van (Tom Size­more), who later died some­what mys­te­ri­ously. Well, this is based on his mem­oirs. And, al­most a decade after his death, the guy is still get­ting even.

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