In “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House,” Liam Neeson delivers a still, almost marmoreal performance as the anonymous source who came to be known as Deep Throat during the Watergate era, and who kept his identity a secret until 2005, when he revealed himself in Vanity Fair magazine.

Felt, deputy associate director at the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, had long been a contender in the Washington parlor game of speculation as to Deep Throat’s true identity. An ambitious and practiced bureaucratic knife fighter, he was reportedly incensed when he didn’t get the top job at the bureau when Hoover died, in 1972.

The Watergate break-in occurred just six weeks later, putting Felt squarely in the middle of a fast-moving criminal investigation, an almost Oedipal drama of succession at an organization he considered his home and existential threats to that organization from a vindictive and paranoid White House.

Writer-director Peter Landesman (“Parkland,” “Concussion”) puts those elements into play with direct, if unimaginative, efficiency in “Mark Felt,” which focuses on the title character’s psychological and emotional motives for becoming the most famous leaker of the 20th century.

The pallid gray of his skin melting into a mane of similarly colorless hair, Neeson cuts an eerie, ghostlike figure, his very presence infusing suspense and dynamism into what is essentially a portrait of a man thinking about his next move.

Although bare-knuckled careerism was doubtlessly part of Felt’s mental machinations, Landesman prefers to see Felt as a hero — a paragon of institutional memory, personal ethics and self-sacrifice.

“Mark Felt” presents an absorbing alternate view to a story that most Americans know from the 1976 thriller “All the President’s Men.” Tony Goldwyn, Brian D’Arcy James and Josh Lucas do their best as Felt’s dogged associates, with Lucas delivering an especially amusing turn as a loyal …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

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