Directed by Doug Liman
Review by Thomas W. Campbell
I did a Q and A with Doug Liman following the National Board of Review screening of
Fair Game on October 28, 2010. Liman is sharp and was open to discussing the political real-life story that his film took on and technical/creative aspects of production – specifically the cinematography and editing.
In Fair Game, director Doug Liman and his script writers (Chez and John-Henry Butterworth) take on the architects of the war with Iraq and lay bare the facts of an American betrayal in their dramatic retelling of the experiences faced by CIA agent Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) and her husband Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), the former United States ambassador to Niger. Fair Game is a classic “based on real events” story that works for all the right reasons. Hoping to find the missing ingredient to rationalize an invasion of Iraq following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Bush Administration turned to Ambassador Joe Wilson, who faced down Saddam Hussein in a successful effort to evacuate Americans and other foreigners during the first Gulf war. This time the mission was to find evidence of uranium sales by the Nigerian government to Iraq – to prove that Saddam Hussein was still actively building weapons of mass destruction even though his nuclear capability was dismantled after the Kuwait conflict. This would be the smoking gun to complete the swagger of those in the highest level of power in the Bush administration. Wilson’s trip to Niger, a region he had great first-hand familiarity with, was the great hope of those who were already planning the next American war. Unfortunately for the administration it was a dead end. Even more unfortunate, though, was what happened next.