Coming to theaters this Friday from writer/director Peter Landesman and Sony Picture Classics is the story of the man only known in 1974 as Deep Throat in “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.”
Mark Felt (Liam Neeson) is a man dedicated to his work with the FBI. Serving under the Hoover administration as Assistant Director, he knew what was expected of him and demanded the same of everyone he worked with. Living in Washington D.C. with wife Audrey (Diane Lane) he is comfortable and satisfied with his life.
Notified of Hoover’s passing, Felt takes immediate action to remove any files belonging to Hoover to protect the Bureau. Also having a belief that he would be next to take charge of the FBI, Felt is shaken when the position is given to Pat Gray (Marton Csokas) by President Nixon. It is clear that changes are happening and not to the benefit of the Bureau. He stays close with Charlie Bates (Josh Lucas) seeing him as a like-minded agent.
Giving Gray a chance to see how the department works, Felt is notified when the Watergate Hotel is broken into. Almost immediately he begins to see people involved in the investigation that shouldn’t be, particularly Bill Sullivan (Tom Sizemore). Felt has never experienced the level of deceit and makes a decision to stop it if he can.
Reaching out to Sandy Smith (Bruce Greenwood) of Time and Bob Woodward (Julian Morris) of the Washington Post, Felt begins to plant the seeds of inquiry. Everyone knows there is a leak of information that carries the weight of a cover-up that goes to the highest office in the land and all orchestrated by a man hiding in plain sight.
Neeson as Felt is just a bad ass stone cold FBI man who doesn’t let his composure slip for one second. Even when he is disappointed he keeps a straight face that almost says “you will not break me.” Of course, his is Neeson we are talking about here and in this film his certain set of skills is the stare of a man who isn’t about to let anyone mess with his beloved bureau. He’d rather take apart the highest office in the land than see one brick of the FBI’s building damaged in any way. I just loved watching Neeson take this role and run with it!
Lane as Audrey is a wife of the man she believed should be the head of the FBI. When that doesn’t happen the alcohol flows and so does the realization that she has given everything to Washington D.C.
Lucas as Bates is clearly a man who believes in Felt and does not hesitate to follow any order given. Even when this man that he trusts is clearly doing something Bates can’t even fathom, he never does anything to undermine what Felt is trying to do. Sizemore as Sullivan comes on strong as a man that can not be trusted and continues it until the bitter end. The character of Sullivan is that guy who walks into the room and immediately everyone shuts up because he isn’t to be trusted with anything. The resentment of that is what drives Sullivan and Sizemore makes sure we are all officially creeped out.
Greenwood as Smith only has a little air time but let me tell you something, I love me some Greenwood. The scene between Greenwood and Neeson in the diner is one for the books because nowadays it would be impossible to meet in such a way without the world not knowing about it. Greenwood’s character knows what all of the Watergate scandal is going to cost Felt and is a little scared for him.
Other cast include Tony Goldwyn as Ed Miller, Maika Monroe as Joan Felt, Kate Walsh as Pat Miller, Michael C. Hall as John Dean, Wendi McLendon-Covey as Carol Tschudy, Ike Barinholtz as Angelo Lano, Noah Wyle as Stan Pottinger and Brian d’Arcy James as Robert Kunkel.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” four tubs of popcorn out of five. First off it must be said that I cannot go past a channel if “All the President’s Men” is on. I will watch it every single time (thanks Redford and Hoffman!) and that’s how I feel about this film.
The story takes its time in the telling and when the craziness began all I could see in Neeson’s portrayal of Felt is ‘keep your head when all others are losing theirs’. Once Felt sets things in motion, the story doesn’t flinch.
Mark Felt is a man who kept all of this a secret and even when he was tried in 1980 for violating the civil rights of those individuals from the Weather Underground for which he only paid a fine, even then, almost no one knew he was Deep Throat.
Not until 2005 when a Vanity Fair article came out did the rest of the world discover who Mark Felt was and the role he played in bringing down the highest office in the land.
In the end — one man brought it all down!