Under the Radar

Mark Felt: Whistleblower or Rat?

Liam Neeson takes a break from his career in angry old guy action movies to play Mark Felt, the FBI legend who was later revealed to be the Watergate scandal inside source nicknamed "Deep Throat" by the Washington Post. The grandly titled "Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House" is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

Mark Felt expected to succeed J. Edgar Hoover as the head of the FBI, but the Nixon White House gave the interim gig to J. Patrick Gray (played by Marton Csokas) in hopes that an outsider would be more loyal to the White House than the internal culture and mission of the FBI.

Felt didn't out himself as "Deep Throat" until 2005, shortly before his death. When you know he's the guy feeding the intel to the Washington Post, everything that happens in "All the President's Men" takes on a slightly different feel: was Deep Throat a patriot or just a guy looking to nail Nixon for screwing him out of a promotion?

The movie doesn't lean into that contradiction but the possibility that Felt was looking for revenge is there in the script if you want to see it. And, since the movie was made in 2016, it's hard to accuse writer/director Peter Landesman of trying to cash in on contemporary controversy involving the White House, the FBI and the Washington Post. But that's hard to ignore.

Neeson's always good and he's excellent here, although his spray-on hair dye is not so good. If you're into Watergate stories or even just Washington intrigue, "Mark Felt" would like to share its tale of a government lifer forced to his conscience. If you think Nixon got jobbed by the Washington elite and its media handmaidens, Felt makes a great villain. The movie works either way.

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