Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Review: Mark Felt is a Watergate explainer that doesn’t explain much

Liam Neeson as Mark Felt.

Bob Mahoney/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

2 out of 4 stars

Title
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
Written by
Peter Landesman
Directed by
Peter Landesman
Starring
Liam Neeson, Diane Lane and Josh Lucas
Genre
Biopic
Classification
PG
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2017

A U.S. president under suspicion. A batch of civil servants in distress. A group of hard-nosed journalists digging for the truth. Yes, 2017 seems like just the right time to revisit the Watergate scandal that struck down Richard Nixon's house of cards.

But Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House is not the zeitgeist chaser it's being marketed as. For one thing, writer-director Peter Landesman's drama fancies itself an explainer as to how one FBI man (Liam Neeson's title character, better known as whistle-blower Deep Throat) helped unravel the corrupt administration. Yet it doesn't actually explain much, throwing a bunch of names and seemingly arbitrary incidents at the screen in the hope that everyone watching the film happened to work at the Washington Post back in the day.

Even Andrew Fleming's 1999 comedy Dick knew how to distill Watergate and G. Gordon Liddy to a tidy 90 minutes, and it had the good graces to be funny. Landesman has wrangled a murderer's row of character actors here – Tom Sizemore! Ike Barinholtz! Michael C. Hall! Bruce Greenwood! – but his script and direction lack a distinct killer instinct.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.