Directed by Jay Roach and written by Charles Randolph, Bombshell tells the story of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes’ scandal that shook the cable news network to its core.
Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) is tired of the on-screen and off-screen harassment she is facing from Fox News CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) and plans on filing a sexual harassment suit against him. However, she is shocked when young producer Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) decides to take a promotion to The O’Reilly Factor. Though she begs her not to, Kayla heads there and befriends producer Jess Carr (Kate McKinnon). Later, Kayle does the infamous “spin” for Ailes, and later, goes further. Meanwhile, Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) faces a scandal following a “dust-up” with then-candidate Donald Trump during a GOP debate, which escalates to Kelly receiving threatening messages. To her surprise, she receives little support other than Ailes offering her security. After he fires Gretchen, she goes public with the lawsuit, prompting the Murdochs to do an investigation. This sends shockwaves through the network as lines are drawn between those who support Ailes and those who make allegations against him. Kelly decides to conduct her own research, remembering a jarring incident with Ailes years ago.
The movie is well-acted. Kidman, Robbie, Theron, and Lithgow all do excellent with their roles. I especially one to give props to Theron, who clearly did her work, even copying Kelly’s on-screen mannerism and the way she pronounces certain words. Kidman did a good job as Carlson, though I felt they tried to a little too hard to make her look like Gretchen. This made some of her appearances seemed forced and at times fake, though that is not the fault of Kidman, just a side note.
The movie has two failings, however. The first is that the movie cannot decide if it likes Gretchen Carlson, but especially Megyn Kelly. Both of these characters ping-pong back and forth between the protagonist and antagonist. Carlson is presented as this woman challenging one of the most powerful men in the media but towards the end she climax, it takes a left-turn where it seems to imply she was more opportunistic than previously shown. Megyn Kelly received the brunt of this. While she is shown as a career woman as well as a wonderful wife and mother, the stretches the film goes through to display her flaws muddied the waters a bit on whether she was a hero or a villain. This could have been solved with better character development, but perhaps director Roach wanted to avoid giving Fox a real chance, even if Kelly is no longer with the company.
The second flaw is with the fictional characters. Margot Robbie’s character is shown to be an ambitious, wide-eyed Conservative who is somewhat of a secret party girl. Her character is sexually harassed by Ailes and she is shown to cave to his desires to get ahead. Now, I understand changing the name of a victim to protect them from reprisal, but her character was a “composite” character. This diminishes the message of the film and was a missed opportunity to share a real story. She is not the only fictional character. McKinnon’s character was clearly there just to rag on Fox as a whole, giving petty pot-shots to a network she works at. This was a bad decision by the writer and again, diminished the impact of the story.
That being said, the movie is entertaining, impacting, and looking past these flaws, it does tell a story that is all too common. The music done by Theodore Shapiro, who previously worked on Central Intelligence, complimented the film perfectly and added to the overall effect of the movie.
Bottom line, Bombshell is an enthralling film that has an emotional component. It stumbles on itself but still delivers a riveting story with dynamite performances and an intriguing true story.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Sexual content, Minor Violence
FAVORITE QUOTE: No crying at Fox.
Check out the trailer below:
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