It seems like every year we get a movie that tries to imitate The Wolf of Wall Street with a lot of fourth wall breaking and fast paced intros of characters and settings. With the right director and script, this imitation can work very nicely. (The Big Short, Vice). But with Bombshell, it feels like a cheap rip off that doesn’t quite know what style of movie it wants to be. When it works, it is super engaging. The problem is, that doesn’t happen very often and we’re left wondering how good this movie could have been.
A group of women decide to take on Fox News head Roger Ailes and the toxic atmosphere he presided over at the network.
What works well with Bombshell is the cast. Charlize Theron leads the talented cast with her portrayal of Megyn Kelly, and she continues to be one of the most talented actresses working in Hollywood. She has this unique skillset that allows her to be immersed in whatever role that is presented. The same goes with Nicole Kidman, who is really the driving force of Bombshell with her role of Gretchen Carlson. She is the one who goes after Roger Ailes with sexual harassment allegations after she is fired from Fox News. Her hope is that other women will come forward with similar claims. Margot Robbie turns in another fine performance as Kayla Pospisil. Kayla is trying to make it as an on-camera talent and she has a run in with Roger early in the movie, but she keeps her mouth shut because of fear. All three of these wonderful women carry the movie and make it watchable. Their contrast with John Lithgow (Roger Ailes) is jarring as well. He is the classic “old white man” who has given these women opportunities, but with a cost. A disgusting cost at that..
What makes Bombshell fall flat is really the lack of confident direction. There is something about the directing and the script that makes it not have that “it” factor to carry it to multiple Oscar wins. The dialogue felt overly expository way too often and once you notice it once, it is way too present throughout the entire runtime. That is a shame because the story, content, and acting are all compelling. But the execution is just plain and feels like a rip off of other genre movies that we’ve seen the last few years. There isn’t much that separates it from the actual story, it’s just kind of an exact retelling with some famous people.
Another thing that was jarring with Bombshell was the shooting style. They went for that “The Office” type shooting and while that has been effective in other movies, it doesn’t really work in this one. The zoom ins and overall cinematography didn’t feel precise, often times losing the appropriate head room and framing as the camera punched in. It becomes such a distraction that it was easy to wish they had shot it in a normal way. However, while on the technical subject, the score was quite good.
Overall, Bombshell is forgettable and not worth your time in a movie theater. The uninspired script and rip-off directing wastes good performances from the entire cast. It would have been awesome to see someone like Adam McKay get ahold of this script because he could have elevated it so much. If you’re going to watch this one, it would be best to wait for it to hit streaming services.