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MOVIE REVIEW

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House also known as “Mark Felt - O Homem que Derrubou a Casa Branca,” “Mark Felt: Beyaz Saray'a yikim getiren adam,” “The Secret Man”

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for some language.

Reviewed by: Nicky VanValkenburgh
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Biography Drama
Length:
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
2017
USA Release:
September 29, 2017
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics
Relevant Issues
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FBI leaders who play politics by leaking confidential, classified information to reporters

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Bitterness at being passed over for a promotion

Seeking revenge

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How to deal properly with disappointment when personal ambitions are blocked

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The Watergate scandal of 1972—why it happened and what resulted

Unethical behavior on the part of governmental leaders

Justice and the justice of God

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Dirty tricks / lies / spinning truth and lies / secrets / backstabbing

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What part should morality play in politics? Answer

Does character matter in political leaders? Answer

Voting—Do Christians have an obligation to vote? Answer

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Featuring: Liam NeesonMark Felt
Diane LaneAudrey Felt
Tony GoldwynEd Miller
Josh LucasCharlie Bates
Tom SizemoreBill Sullivan
Bruce GreenwoodSandy Smith
Noah WyleStan Pottinger
Eddie MarsanAgency Man
Marton Csokas … L. Patrick Gray
Ike Barinholtz … Angelo Lano
Wendi McLendon-Covey … Carol Tschudy
Kate Walsh … Pat Miller
Brian d'Arcy James … Robert Kunkel
Maika Monroe … Joan Felt
Michael C. Hall … John Dean
Julian Morris … Bob Woodward
Stephen Michael Ayers … John Mitchell
Wayne Pére (Wayne Pere) … John Ehrlichman
See all »
Director: Peter Landesman—“Concussion” (2015)
Producer: Ridley Scott
Tom Hanks
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Sony Pictures. Trademark logo.
Sony Pictures Classics, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment
Copyrighted, Sony Pictures Classics

“Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” is a biographical spy thriller based on FBI agent William Mark Felt Sr.’s 2006 autobiography of the same title, which he co-wrote with John O'Connor. The film depicts how Mr. Felt became an anonymous source known as “Deep Throat” and exposed the Watergate scandal in The Washington Post.

The film begins in 1972, with the death of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (who’s spoken of, but remains unseen), and how President Richard Nixon (also unseen) comes into power.

Mark Felt (played by Liam Neeson) is the FBI Associate Director (its 2nd highest post), and it’s his job to hide and destroy incriminating evidence that Hoover collected over the years. Felt and his associates shred papers and empty filing cabinets. They also investigate attacks by the radical group, Weather Underground.

Shortly thereafter, the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. (headquarters for the Democratic National Committee) is broken into. Felt and his men begin investigating, believing that the break-in was somehow masterminded by The White House and President Nixon.

Meanwhile, Felt is passed over for a promotion, which disappoints his wife (Diane Lane). The newly appointed director, Pat Gray (Marton Csokas) wants the Watergate investigation shut down. That’s when Felt secretly leaks information to reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post. Their editor nicknames the informer “Deep Throat,” based on the title of a pornographic movie. Felt keeps his secret, but the leak causes a lot of stress and tension at the FBI.

The movie does not mention, Chuck Colson, a former Nixon aide involved in Watergate, who later became a Christian. Colson blasted “Deep Throat,” insisting that the leaks were unethical and unnecessary. In a 2005 interview with Christianity Today, Colson contended that “Mark Felt had an obligation to report obstruction of justice to the officials and to a grand jury, if necessary—but not to leak it to reporters.”

Political scientist George Friedman observed…

The Washington Post created a morality play about an out-of-control government brought to heel by two young, enterprising journalists and a courageous newspaper. That simply wasn’t what happened.

Instead, it was about the FBI using The Washington Post to leak information to destroy the president, and The Washington Post willingly serving as the conduit for that information while withholding an essential dimension of the story by concealing Deep Throat’s identity.”


The real Mark Felt
Photo of the real Mark Felt, 2nd in command at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (1972-1973: Associate Director), a long-time registered Democrat who formerly worked for 2 Democratic U.S. Senators

“In June 1973, [William] Ruckelshaus [then the Acting Director of the FBI] got a call from someone claiming to be a New York Times reporter, telling him that Felt was the source of this information. On June 21, Ruckelshaus met privately with Felt and accused him of leaking information to The New York Times, a charge that Felt adamantly denied. Ruckelshaus told Felt to ‘sleep on it’ and let him know the next day what he wanted to do. Felt resigned from the Bureau the next day. …[Ruckelshaus] considered Felt’s resignation ‘an admission of guilt’.” —Wikipedia

For three decades, the identity of “Deep Throat” was one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of American politics. No one knew who it was until July 2005, when it was finally revealed to be Mark Felt, the former “Number Two” man at the FBI. Evidently, Mr. Felt revealed himself through an article in Vanity Fair magazine. However, reporters Woodward and Bernstein, and Mark Felt himself, had kept the name a secret for more than 30 years.

In 1980, Felt was convicted of having violated the civil rights of people thought to be associated with members of the Weather Underground, by ordering FBI agents to break into their homes and search the premises as part of an attempt to prevent bombings. He was ordered to pay a fine, but was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan during his appeal.

There is a lot of foul language in this movie, such as “f**k,” “bulls**t,” “s**t,” and other words. God’s name is used as a curse at least 10 times.

There isn’t any drug use in the movie, but characters smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. There is not much violence in the film, but there are discussions about the death of Hoover.

Other Hollywood films that depict the Watergate story include “All the President’s Men” (1976), “Nixon” (1995), and “Frost/Nixon” (2008), and also the vulgar comedy “Dick” (1999).

Watching this film is a powerful reminder that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that we can’t simply trust governments. I found the movie to be suspenseful and intriguing, and was sitting on the edge of my seat. The tone is often also dark and frightening, and shows how desperate people can be when they try to cover their tracks.

The Bible reminds us,

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” —Proverbs 14:2

  • Violence: None
  • Profane language: Moderately Heavy
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Moderate
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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Movie Critics
…ignoring the real truth behind the Watergate scandal… a simplistic, biased view of Watergate and Mr. Felt that’s been refuted by evidence from credible books and articles…
Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…The major question—left unanswered by and only vaguely discussed within the movie—is whether Felt's dedication to the Watergate investigation comes from a matter of principle or of vengeance. …
Mark Dujsik, Mark Reviews Movies
…Historians will likely have much to say about this picture, which, despite its acknowledgment that personal grievance had much to do with Felt’s whistleblowing, still paints him as basically noble. But as in his 2015 pic “Concussion,” Landesman seemingly is too enamored of those who go up against the powerful to let us decide on our own how their righteousness balances out against their faults.
John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
…The movie is an obvious nod to contemporary political circumstances… The movie works reasonably well as a thriller but falls apart in other areas. …[2/4]
Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Daily News
…This movie managed to make Deep Throat boring… [1½/4]
Sara Stewart, New York Post
…A roaring snooze that should by all rights be edge-of-your-seat, compelling cinema, “Mark Felt” lives and dies by Landesman’s laborious script, which revels in the minutiae of the scandal without ever managing an iota of passion. …[1½/5]
Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle
…“Mark Felt” is saved from feeling like a History Channel movie by Neeson, who can’t shake his inherent gravitas no matter how mediocre the script he’s given…
David Sims, The Atlantic
…It’s surprising that a film about Deep Throat could be such an anticlimax. [2/5]
Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian (UK)