I was a teenager when I saw Mike Stivic and Archie Bunker fight over the Watergate scandal in the deliciously topical sitcom All in the family. Then a few years later, I saw All the president’s men, about Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s investigation that uncovered the corruptions of the Nixon administration. In the film we see the journalists meeting in a dark garage at night with an informant they called “Deep throat”. We now know that “Deep throat” was Mark Felt, the Associate director of the Federal bureau of investigation (FBI). The film start as Mark Felt (Liam Neeson) learns about the death of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (he headed the bureau from 1924 to 1972). As interim director Nixon names “yes man” Patrick Gray (Marton Csokas). Mark Felt does not get along with Gray, as he feels that he should have been appointed. Then on June 17, 1972, the Watergate break-in happens. The investigation starts at the FBI, but Gray receives orders from the White house to stop the investigation and cover it up. But Mark Felt wants to sticks to the principles of the FBI as an arm’s length organisation untouched by political interference. In his personal life, Felt and his wife, Audrey (Diane Lane), are looking for their missing daughter. Mark Felt: The man who brought down the White House is interesting mostly for the history lesson and the similarities to what is happening in Washington in 2017. Liam Neeson, who is in every scenes, has a somber and commanding presence. The cast of characters are well-played, but no one else than Neeson is notable. According to the director, Diane Lane gave what he termed an “electric performance”, but most of it was cut from the finished film. As it is, it’s a thankless part. Although the film is interesting to see because of what we learn, it suffers a lot from a slow tempo and a lack of energy. The Daniel Pemberton score helps to keep the suspense and tension boiling. I liked it enough to recommend, but you should also see Alan J. Pakula’s All the president’s men.
Mark Felt: The man who brought down the White House
Michael C. Hall