Thursday, December 19, 2019

Bombshell - Review

The year 2016 brought a reckoning upon predatory men of power unlike anything anyone had seen before, and one of the larger takedowns of that crusade was the Fox News women and their stories. Their place in this movement is up for debate, mainly hinging on their continued culpability in the faulty reporting of the network and their blind eye to other evil affairs, but Bombshell seeks to place one element above all else: their humanity.

A revealing look inside the most powerful and controversial media empire of all time and the explosive story of the women (Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman & Margot Robbie) who brought down the infamous man (John Lithgow) who created it.

Perhaps unsurprising to those paying attention, Bombshell runs into many of the same problems that fell on Vice in 2018. The events it depicts are far too recent for the film to want to hold the audience’s hand throughout the runtime, only Bombshell is even more familiar to the audience in 2019. On the other hand, Bombshell doesn’t feel quite as condescending as Vice did, so its at the very least an easier watch. And it certainly helps to have three fantastic performances at the center, each different than the last.
It is unquestionable the talent of all three leading women in Bombshell. They all manage to make their mark here, even if the material they’re given if far from equivalent in quality. First up is Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson. Kidman gets the least amount to do, but her tenacity and persistence to hold the men accountable is the lynchpin for this whole avalanche to get going. Next is Margot Robbie as Kayla Pospisil, a fictional character used as an audience surrogate. Robbie brings the right naivety to the performance, a young woman seeking to rise up through the ranks, not knowing the horror that awaits.

And then there is Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, the actress getting the most praise and awards attention from the film. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know how utterly uncanny the transformation is from Theron to Kelly, a huge testament to the work that the makeup and hairstyling team put in, but it goes deeper than that. Theron matches the cadence of her voice, the posture, the way she carries herself, all of it, and it’s honestly scary at some points how accurate the portrayal is.

Bombshell is not nearly as shocking as it wants to be, whether that stems from the recency of its events or from a general lack of depth to its method of telling said story. It never goes beyond the surface level societal messaging, looking to take down the one man everyone knows is evil rather than examining the system that allows men in power to get away with it for so long. The film survives only on the back of the lead performances, and a couple of smart choices in tone, but otherwise, it’s a film that is terrified to delve into anything past the superficial.

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