Film Review: “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” (2017) ★★★★

Liam Neeson as Mark Felt. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

What Mark Felt has done for his country is important and brave. To be clear from the beginning, his actions cannot be compared with those of Edward Snowden. While one of these men can be considered a hero, the other one deserves the title of a traitor. Mark Felt knew perfectly well what needed to go out to the public and what should be kept inside the FBI. He might even have his own reasons to bring president Nixon down. While the director Peter Landesman cannot provide us with a definite answer to that question, his film “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” is one hell of a ride featuring the story of one individual who declares a war against the corruption and monopolization, and helps to protect the only institution that reports to no one – the FBI.

The film follows the infamous FBI agent Mark Felt (Liam Neeson). During his thirty years of service, he has earned the respect and recognition and collected a lot of information and dirt on politicians. He is highly admired by his boss – John Edgar Hoover – the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Hoover dies at the very beginning of the film and Mark Felt is left alone to struggle. L. Patrick Gray (Marton Csokas) is now the newly appointed director of the FBI and his primary goal is to end the Watergate investigation that could lead to Nixon’s impeachment.

Mark Felt, acting under the nickname Deep Throat, continues to supply crucial information regarding the Watergate scandal to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein  – the investigative journalists who write for The Washington Post. At the same time, his daughter Joan (Maika Monroe) goes missing, and this is bound to reshape and restructured the relationship between Mark and his wife Audrey (Diane Lane). The tension between the FBI and the White House keep on rising and the leaked information puts in danger everything that Nixon and his team try to protect.

For me, it is the factor of the director Peter Landesman that has made this film particularly important to watch. He has an incredibly rich and impressive background – investigative journalist, covering the conflicting zones, painter, writer, director. Thus, not at all surprising that he has chosen to make a film about Mark Felt and his interpretation of the protagonist’s actions is extremely interesting and intriguing. I think it is not just what the director thinks but how he captures this very important part of the American History through his artistic vision, colors, and cinematography.

The stellar cast of this film deserves special recognition: Michael C. Hall, Diane Lane, Tony Goldwyn, Marton Csokas, Josh Lucas, Kate Walsh, Tom Sizemore, Bruce Greenwood, and, of course, Liam Neeson as Mark Felt. The opening scene alone, where Liam Neeson delivers the most important speech, is a  deliciously extended sequence that will immediately transport you right into the mood of the film. And you will know exactly what to expect next. The storyline unfolds slowly but it is necessary not to jump to conclusions where there are none. The film is directed and narrated cleverly, to ensure that it is as historically accurate as possible.

In conclusion, as it is referred by The Washington Post, “the democracy can die in darkness”. Peter Landesman’s film is not just a reminder but a painful parallel of the reality of the United States now and then. With one little detail: do we have another man who will hide behind a nickname like Deep Throat to bring the White House or its leader down? That we do not know. But it is and was possible with someone like Mark Felt, who knows that despite not being assigned as the FBI director and not being recognized on the top level, there is one thing he would never allow to be compromised – his home where his heart belongs – the FBI. And that’s the moment when he knows it is the time for action. And so he does! And because of that decision, we have the wonderful film by Landesman to enjoy any time of the day or year.

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