Bombshell Movie Review
From the man who brought you Meet the Parents and Austin Powers—comes a drama about the Fox News sex scandal that brought down Roger Ailes. Jay Roach, working from a screenplay by Charles Randolph (The Big Short), approaches the material with more than a little sense of irony, the end result an entertaining piece of popcorn drama that rarely digs beneath the surface.
The power of Bombshell lies in its star power. Charlize Theron looks and sounds like Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman is Gretchen Carlson, Margot Robbie plays a fictional character, an aggregate of several women harassed at the conservative news station, and John Lithgow slurps beneath a slew of prosthetics to play Ailes. Theron is by far the standout, both pulling off a perfect impersonation of Kelly while delivering an intense, enthralling performance. Robbie matches her nearly step for step.
The foursome, despite limited screen time together, make for a fearsome ensemble, even with Kidman relegated to an unfortunately small role that rarely gets to interact with the other characters, let alone flex her acting muscles.
Unlike The Big Short or even Vice (the connection being director Adam McKay), Bombshell plays things straight and to the point, the visuals glossy and bright, the story seemingly brimming with a constant grin. The end product is an entertaining if slight affair, Roach content to demonstrate the crudeness of Ailes, the determination of the women, and the hypocrisy of Fox News without really attempting to be nuanced, complex, or truly exploratory.
The movie’s decision to stay ultra-focused on the sexual harassment issues at play, while probably a good move from a storytelling decision, misses the opportunity to lift the skirt up higher and do a more grounded and gritty exposé of Fox News.
If Roach’s intent was purely to entertain, he succeeded. He’s a more adept filmmaker than McKay; the movie feels polished, complete, and focused. But if he wanted to make you feel anger, frustration, or some kind of real emotion, he missed the mark as much as Fox News misses the facts. Bombshell is a good movie, but it’s not nearly as explosive as one would hope.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.