Mark Felt (Liam Neeson) was an unlikely whistleblower but at the same time an archetypical one. The predicament of the man is well presented by director Peter Landesman in this film: Felt was a deputy director of the FBI at the time of the Watergate scandal, a veteran of the force, proud of his work and the institution for which he had worked for thirty years. Felt did something that would eventually have enormous consequences in American politics: he leaked essential information which ultimately implicated then-President Richard Nixon to the Watergate fiasco. The political outcome of these revelations is well known, Nixon resigned the presidency to avoid the humiliation of impeachment. Using the nickname of “Deep Throat” Felt passed the information to a Washington Post reporter who eventually made it public and with that action brought down the Nixon administration.
The movie could be regarded as a tribute to a man who sacrificed his career, his own freedom, and put his family at risk to reveal something that implicated the U.S. president and somehow caused a tremendous political commotion at the time.
The movie presents Felt as a man entirely dedicated to his job in the FBI and that devotion to the institution makes his whistleblowing a difficult decision. He is also facing a complex situation in his own family after losing contact with his daughter—politically very distant from her father. One has to remember that the unpopular Vietnam War that deeply divided the American society was on at the time, and Felt’s family was not alone in experiencing that divide within.
What motivated Felt, other than the search for truth and justice, is not necessarily evident in the film, but it is probable that the whole atmosphere of discontent with what the U.S. as a society was doing at the time could have influenced his decision. In any case, Felt’s whistleblowing is archetypical because it set the parameters for future similar behaviours which we have seen in recent years: Snowden, Assange, and others who have taken risks to expose torture, human rights violations, and other illegal actions by American security agencies or the military. Felt was brave enough to do it in search of justice and truth, regardless of the personal consequences of his actions. He set an example followed by others today. The film may also be seen as an interesting commentary on recent events in the U.S. in which some potentially illegal actions could even end up compromising the White House.
“Mark Felt…” is a movie that should interest especially those who follow political events and may be fascinated by historical characters such as Felt who with one determined move may alter the course of history.
Length: 103 min.