Review: The Secret Man – Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (2017)


The Secret Man – Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (2017)

Directed by: Peter Landesman | 103 minutes | biography, drama | Actors: Liam Neeson, Diane Lane, Marton Csokas, Tony Goldwyn, Ike Barinholtz, Josh Lucas, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kate Walsh, Brian d’Arcy James, Maika Monroe, Michael C. Hall, Tom Sizemore, Julian Morris, Bruce Greenwood , Noah Wyle, Eddie Marsan, Stephen Michael Ayers, Wayne Pere, Darryl Cox, Jeff Sprauve, Scott Poythress

The whirlwind called Donald Trump is often compared to the storm surrounding Richard Nixon. By extension, many parallels are also drawn between the Watergate affair and the Russia investigation. And there are many. However, the only thing that is missing from Trump (for now) is a “Deep Throat”. This illustrious informant was responsible for relaying crucial information to journalists at The Washington Post. Years after Watergate, this informant turned out to be FBI chief Mark Felt. He is the subject of the movie ‘The Secret Man’ (aka ‘Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House’).

‘The Secret Man’ follows Mark Felt, played by Liam Neeson, during the turbulent Watergate period. Felt is a man, characterized by straightforwardness and justice, who finds himself forced to put aside his own values ​​in order to let justice prevail. And that’s really the whole story in a nutshell, and therefore the film’s weakness. The point of his internal struggle is quickly made and the rest of the film aims to emphasize this, but contributes little as a result.

It is not because of Neeson’s acting that ‘The Secret Man’ is a bit disappointing. He makes Felt a believable character which contributes to the struggle that the main character delivers. The supporting cast also plays convincingly. It’s the story that disappoints. The link between Woodward and Bernstein on the one hand and Felt on the other is one of mythical proportions. “Deep Throat” is a phenomenon. It is the origin of the film trope of an informant in the parking garage in front of the lights of his car. Preferably with the hat and collar of the raincoat up. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is tucked away in the depths of the story.

‘The Secret Man’ could have been a current and relevant film in terms of timing and content. However, it collapses below the point it wants to make. The glorification of Felt, as a man who sees no other way out, weighs too heavily on the plot and thus prevents the telling of an exciting and important story. It feels as if the makers are too aware of the link with current events and that hoping for a “Deep Throat” for the Russia investigation is the biggest reason for making the film. There is nothing wrong with that wish in itself, and all the more so with the film.

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