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I was extremely excited for this movie from the first time I saw the teaser for this movie. That teaser may have only had three words of spoken dialogue, but it had enough tension for an entire film. I was also completely mesmerized by Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, and adding Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie was a massive bonus. I also always love seeing movies about things I very clearly remember. Maybe it’s because I live in Arizona, but Only the Brave is one that comes to mind when talking about recent movies with stories that had a profound effect on me at the time they happened. The Fox News scandal was massive news just five years ago, and though these types of scandals unfortunately surprise me on a rare basis, it was something that captured the attention of the entire country.
Bombshell is directed by Jay Roach and stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Allison Janney, and Malcolm McDowell. Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly, and other women at Fox News decide to put everything on the line to take a stand against Roger Ailes, the president of the station, and his actions against female employees.
I was somewhat expecting Bombshell to closely resemble a recent Adam McKay movie. It’s probably because Bombshell has the same writer and cinematographer as The Big Short, but it also has the same type of subject matter and political intrigue. Though I don’t like this movie as much as I liked Adam McKay’s past two movies, I did like it quite a bit. It all starts with the performances, which are absolutely out of this world. Charlize Theron is the standout as Megyn Kelly, and I knew she would be before I even saw the film. She captures Megyn Kelly’s essence and energy perfectly, and she looks spot on. The makeup is incredible in this film, and it was a driving force when it came to selling me on the characters visually. Megyn Kelly has such a distinct look and voice with facial expressions that belong to her. Charlize Theron doesn’t just do a good impression of her. Charlize Theron becomes her. There waste a single moment of this film that made me think I was watching an actress in Megyn Kelly’s spot. It was always Megyn Kelly. Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie are also excellent. Kidman doesn’t get many opportunities to bring her best, but she does well with every chance she does get. Robbie does get a few opportunities to shine with the cherry on top being one of the most uncomfortable sequences of 2019. I really felt the power dynamic in the room, and Margot Robbie’s vulnerability in that scene encapsulates everything this movie wants to say in a perfect yet disturbing and disgusting way.
John Lithgow is also spectacular. I tend to picture John Lithgow as a nice guy and maybe even a goofball in real life, but he made an amazing villain in Bombshell. Once he gets this makeup on, he can play a very terrifying and despicable person, and I loved his villain because he’s a true-to-life antagonist. He isn’t twirling his mustache and playing a cartoon character. He’s abusing power and taking advantage of those who need his help. Instead of using his power for good, he’s using it for personal gain, which is so much scarier than a villain in a superhero movie. I also loved that the protagonists in this film are far from perfect. They don’t always do the right thing. In fact, they struggle to do the right thing most of the time because sometimes doing the right thing is so much harder than being complacent. This movie asks questions of these characters about speaking out. What are these promotions worth? Is your career worth the harassment? How does your refusal to speak out affect others around you and those who follow you? The weight of these decisions is palpable, and it made the story so fascinating to watch.
Where I do think this movie falls short is in its depth. There are multiple points in this story where I felt like it had the chance to drop the hammer, and it just doesn’t. It could have done a little bit more through the characters and through the story, but it feels like it decides not to at the last moment. I think this could have been improved with some more time. This movie is only about an hour and 50 minutes long, and it flies by. If they would have added 15 or 20 minutes completely focused on depth I think that would have greatly improved the movie, but I also understand that they were working around non-disclosure agreements, so they get a little bit of a pass. I also don’t think that the camerawork matches the urgency of the story. It’s a fast-paced movie, but outside of the newsroom, it never felt like the urgency reached a level that called for shaky handheld and quick zooms. It feels a little bit strange when the film slows down and focuses on characters internally reflecting on the events that are playing out.
Overall, Bombshell is a good movie that heavily relies on its performances, and when we’re strictly talking performances, it’s truly one of the best of the year. Charlize Theron will be Oscar-nominated and probably gives the best performance from a lead actress I’ve seen this year. I didn’t spend a second of this movie thinking that I was was watching Charlize Theron. Only Megyn Kelly existed in this film. Nicole Kidman is also great, and Margot Robbie nails it as a created character. John Lithgow is also a fantastic villain in a role that makes him a true monster. In our world, evil is the abuse of power over those who have less, and that’s why he’s so disturbing in this film. I thought the story was extremely compelling and did a great job of humanizing everyone while showing their struggles to do right by others and themselves. I do think it could have gone deeper, and I also didn’t care for the camerawork for certain moments, but the moments of vulnerability and thought we do get from the characters makes this a fascinating story. I’m going to give Bombshell a 7.8/10.
Will you be seeing Bombshell? Comment down in the comment section to let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!