Fair Game (2010)



Director:     Doug Liman. 

Starring:     Naomi Watts (Valerie Plame),  Sonya Davison (Chanel Suit),   Vanessa Chong (Tabir Secretary #1),  Anand Tiwari (Hafiz),  Stephanie Chai (Tabir Secretary #2),  Michael Kelly (Jack McAllister),  Sean Penn (Joe Wilson),  David Andrews (Scooter Libby),  Ty Burrell (Fred),  Jessica Hecht (Sue),  Norbert Leo Butz (Steve Norbert),  Rebecca Rigg (Lisa),  Brooke Smith (Diana),  Thomas McCarthy (Jeff),  Ashley Gerasimovich (Samantha Wilson),  Quinn Broggy (Trevor Wilson).

Bush lies the USA into war with Iraq and then Cheney tries to punish Joe Wilson and his wife for exposing the lies



Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.

Kuala Lumpur.  Valerie Plame is on a CIA assignment.  She was originally a Canadian but she's now an American.  At work abroad Valerie corners a fellow and then tells him that they need information from him. 

9-11 was a terrible blow to the United States, but it left the United States in a much too militant mood.  Joe Wilson, Valerie's husband, and Valerie go to a home-cooked dinner at the house of friends.  One of the friends says he gets scared when he sees Muslim types on a plane.  Joe kind of spoils the dinner a bit by calling the man a "racist pussy".

Valerie suffers from fitful sleep.  She and her husband have two young children, a boy and a girl. 

Valerie introduces Joe to her boss Jack.  Joe participates in a discussion of yellow cake.  Supposedly Iraq has acquired 500 tons of yellow cake used in the production of nuclear weapons.   There is considerable doubt about this story in the CIA.  Joe Wilson goes to Niger for the CIA to check on the story.  He finds that the sale of the yellow cake could not have happened, because such a massive deal would have produced a huge paper trail and there just wasn't any such trail. 

June 28, 2002.  Scooter Libby from the Office of the Vice-President (Dick Cheney) comes to speak to the CIA analysts working on questions dealing with weapons of mass destruction that, supposedly, Saddam Hussein is trying to acquire.  It creates quite a stir among the CIA operatives.  There is definitely an intimidation factor at work here.  Libby wants the agency to get inside the weapons program of Iraq. 

An Iraqi woman now living in the United States comes to Valerie to tell her that she would like to learn the whereabouts of her missing brother.  Valerie starts to recruit the woman, but the young lady doesn't want to get involved.  So Valerie gets serious.  She says:  "We're going to war (with Iraq)."

Libby's intimidation continues.  He demands an agent admit that the doubtful story of the tubes to be used in a nuclear reactor that Saddam tried to get his hands on is in fact true.  Perhaps there is a 1 in 100 chance of the story being true.  Would the agent be willing to risk his reputation by saying that there is no truth in the tubes story?  When the agent says that there are a lot of people who don't agree with the tube story, Libby demands:  "Who doesn't agree?"  In other words, Libby wants the agent to say what he says or there will be negative career consequences. 

At home Joe complains to Valerie that he hardly ever sees her.  She is always jetting to this country or that country.  Valerie says that now she is off to Cleveland.  It's on a post 'em in the kitchen. 

Amman, Jordan.  Valerie speaks with her newly recruited female spy.  Then the woman takes off for Baghdad, Iraq.  She is able to meet her brother there.  Later in a private moment, she asks her brother for some information on the weapons program.  He tells her that the Americans destroyed the program and they know that. 

June 29, 2003.  Bush gives his State of the Union Address to the nation.  He talks about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction. 

Valerie is told by her boss that the agency will not help her extract the Iraqi scientists and their families from Baghdad.  Valerie protests, but it doesn't do any good. 

The war on Iraq begins.  Joe Wilson writes an article "What I Didn't Find in Iraq".   What he didn't find was a massive sale of yellow cake to Iraq.  And now amongst the inner circles of the White House, the question becomes:  "Who is Joe Wilson?" 

July 14, 2003.  In his newspaper column, Bob Novack outs Valerie as a CIA agent even though this is against the law.  Everything now changes for Valerie and Joe.  At the agency Valerie is followed around by an internal security man.  She is put in an office with nothing in it but an empty desk (with no phone).  The internal man is going to try to make her stay there, but Valerie says she is going to the restroom and takes off to talk with her superiors.  She tells one superior that she has eight or nine teams in the field right now.  She can't just abandon them.  The top guy talks to her and says he's sorry, but "Valerie, it's over."   

At home friends call her asking is it true that she was a CIA agent?  She is a bit upset that Joe wants to go on television and strike back.  Valerie explains to a close friend that she joined the CIA in 1985 and she was the one to seek out the agency.  That means she was in the CIA for 18 years. 

The young Muslim girl originally from Iraq comes to Valerie's house and asks about her brother, who has disappeared.  She knows that other Iraqi scientists have been murdered.  Valerie eventually has to tell the woman she worked with:  "We don't have him."  The woman is crushed.  She protests that she trusted Valerie.  They all trusted her. 

September 2003.  Now the hunt is on for who leaked Valerie Plame's name to the CIA?  A CIA agent speaks with Valerie.  He asks her to speak to her husband to tell him to back off fighting this case.  It's not doing the agency any good. 

When Valerie gets home her husband says that Vanity Fair magazine wants to do a story on them.  He thinks they should do the story because they can get their story out to counteract the lies of the White House.  Valerie doesn't want to do it and asks her husband where has his striking back gotten him?  Nowhere.  Joe keeps insisting that she has to speak up.   

A committee report comes out that says that Valerie Plame had Joe sent to Niger to find out about the yellow cake situation.  Of course, that claim is not quite true.  Joe is angry that his wife that she did not tell him that she was behind the scenes asked to get him involved in the yellow cake affair and his going to Niger.  This makes Valerie very defensive and very angry.  She and her children go to stay in her mother and father's house.  Valerie tells her father that she thinks her marriage is over.  Dad says that what the White House did to her and Joe was just plain wrong. 

The news is that Scooter Libby has been indicted for outing Valerie Plame.  He also resigns his position in the Office of the Vice-President. 

One morning Joe is up walking alone around the house when he suddenly sees Valerie standing by the front door.  She tells her husband:  "They do not get to take my marriage away from me." 

Valerie Plame now appears before still another government investigating committee.  She tells her story finally. 

Scooter Libby was convicted and served time in prison until his sentence was commuted by Bush II.  (But Libby was never pardoned for the crime.  He is still a convicted felon.)

Joe and Valerie are still married. 


Very current movie, which makes it that more powerful.  The White House was lying to itself and the public about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction.  Behind the scenes the office of the vice-president put pressure on CIA analysts to produce conclusions supporting the idea of weapons of mass destruction.  Scooter Libby strongly indicated that there would be hell to pay for those agents who did not cooperate with them and get them their desired conclusions.  So the CIA had to put blindfolds on to produce favorable reports that Bush and Cheney wanted to have. 

The CIA got Joe Wilson to go to Niger to check on the yellow cake situation.  (Yellow cake being used in the process to produce nuclear weapons.)   Joe reported that the story never happened.  But later he finds out that just the opposite conclusion was told to the media by the White House.  He wrote an article in the paper exposing this and other lies told by the administration.  To punish Joe, Scooter Libby and others with Dick Cheney's blessings outted Valerie as a CIA agent.  This had terrible results on the careers of both Joe and Valerie and almost costs them their marriage. 

But right wins out, at least in this situation.  Valerie finally comes over to Joe's position that they both actively have to fight these lies put out by the White House.  And Scooter goes to prison, at least until Bush commuted his sentence.

Love to see the liars and overly ambitious men get their come-uppance.  Sean Penn and Naomi Watts were just great as the victimized couple.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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