Just when the recession was starting to make the Iraq war feel like a blip director Doug Liman’s (he previously directed “Bourne Ultimatum”) “Fair Game” brings us more fresh outrage, this time going through the details of how the government dragged a CIA agent and her do-gooder husband through the mud. They are, of course, Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) and Joe Wilson (Sean Penn). Beginning shortly after 9/11 Plame is charged with trying to find WMDs in Iraq while on her recommendation ex-ambassador Wilson, her husband, is charged with investigating the validity of a yellow cake sale between Iraq and Niger.
Both come up with nothing to suggest a threat, yet war seems to be a predetermined outcome for many in the government. Disgusted by the lies he is hearing before and during the war Wilson writes a column for the New York Times detailing what he didn’t find in Niger. Before he knows it, Valerie is outed as an agent in a newspaper, putting her life at risk and putting her entire family under attack.
Jez and John-Henry Butterworth’s screenplay is more matter-of-fact timelining than emotionally-charged drama. If you know the facts already then there isn’t much to engage. The strain on Plame’s marriage, her life following her outing, and the government’s role in her cover getting blown seem referenced but not really delved into. Luckily Penn, essentially playing himself, ie., hungry for truth and the American way, and Watts, playing a low-key woman hoisted unfairly into the spotlight, sell the material pretty well. “Game” is interesting in that it details for us the injustice done here but I wish it had a few more dramatic fire-works.