January 10, 2020
Like Vice and Game Change before it, the Nicole Kidman-starrer feels as if it’s favouring awards prestige over political impact
Failure to launch: why Bombshell doesnt hit its right-wing targets
You won’t see adverts for Bombshell on the Fox News network, which is both unsurprising and part of the problem. Bombshell details the toxic regime of Fox News boss Roger Ailes (played by John Lithgow), serial abuser of both female journalists and news journalism itself, though the focus is on the women who brought him down, played by Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie. It is a story for our #MeToo/fake news times, but Bombshell is unlikely to live up to its title in terms of real-world impact. Fox remains the US’s most watched cable news network. Last year it drew its largest audience ever.
Bombshell is the latest in a series of films and TV shows targeting the Murdoch empire. Already last year we had The Loudest Voice, a seven-part drama about the rise and fall of Ailes (played by a Golden Globe-winning Russell Crowe), not to mention the Murdoch-esque machinations of Succession. But Bombshell also fits into a wider pattern of ripped-from-the-headlines political stories told in a tricksy, almost comic style, and usually with a liberal slant. The comedy is no coincidence: Bombshell’s director is Jay Roach, who gave us the Austin Powers movies. In recent years he has also been behind Game Change (with Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin), All the Way (Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson) and Recount (on the 2000 US Bush-Gore presidential election).
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