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Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), a reporter with a regional California newspaper (in San Jose), stumbles his way into a stunning investigation of the Central Intelligence Agency’s efforts to arm Contra rebels in Nicaragua by collaborating with drug dealers, importing cocaine and flooding major urban centers with the drug.

Webb breaks the story, becomes a sensation, but then finds himself in the crosshairs of a media that has been turned into a weapon by the government. With all hands on deck, ready to take the reporter down any way possible, Webb succumbs to the smear campaign, losing his job and any real opportunity to redeem himself. Director Michael Cuesta tackles Webb’s story by playing to his strengths, granting audiences access into the private details of Webb’s world. As the second-hand messenger now, Cuesta does justice to Webb, capturing his shortcomings and the massive plot rising to silence him. (R) Grade: B+