BOMBSHELL is like a bomb in itself: messy and all over the place with no centralized focus and is too loud and muddled in its message to really be saying anything at all. It doesn’t know what kind of film it wants to be. It tries to be tongue in cheek, but it tries so hard that it doesn’t ever become tongue in cheek, it becomes a film with way too many tones that don’t mix well. Is it a comedy? I don’t think so, I maybe laughed once. Is it a political bashing film? No…not really as it had a couple of Trump moments but didn’t bash or talk about politics enough to warrant that genre. Is it a drama? It only really gets emotional the last ten minutes, but it isn’t earned as the rest of the film is too light, bright, and fluffy to have that drama totally make sense. Sure, the film is about the female personnel at the Fox News location in Manhattan and the harassment allegations that eventually come to fruition against the founder, Roger Ailes, but it tries too much and too hard to be about a dozen other things and loses its voice very, very fast.
Part of the problem with this film is that instead of just focusing on the three female leads (Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, & Margot Robbie) and then Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) as well, they introduce dozens and dozens of more characters throughout the course of the 1 hr and 50 minute film, and I guess we are supposed to care about them too as each one has an in-scene title text that gives us their real name and how they are associated with the modern world. Seriously, it’s a lot of them, so I’d put the ones just introduced to me in my memory bank in case they came back later. But then just more and more piled on and I started to lose track, so that when some of them did come back later, I had no idea where they were in reference to the story. Way too much information, and what this film needed was a sharp focus it was never near reaching. When the movie focused on Theron, Kidman & Robbie, it was somewhat elevated from its mediocre status, but then the focus is taken away just as quickly. The one that fairs the best out of all of them is definitely Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly. She’s always been an incredible actress, and here it is no different, getting all of Kelly’s mannerisms right, and even having on incredible make up that makes her look exactly like the journalist. If there was one nomination and possible Oscar win I will agree upon, is when this movie will pick up its award for make up & hair styling. Easily the best looking part of the film.
What I don’t get is all the praise for Nicole Kidman & Margot Robbie. They are getting serious supporting actress consideration, but their characters aren’t really all that interesting and it doesn’t seem like a stretch for either of the actresses to play these real life counterparts. Nicole Kidman has had plenty of (and better) supporting roles playing a strong female leader willing to do something to create change and her range here doesn’t really even get close to even meeting the caliber of those other great roles. I would say not even in the parking lot of the same ballpark. Margot Robbie’s character is just sort of a ditz that is in over her head and suddenly smarts up by the end of the movie. She has one break down scene that I guess everybody is giving her Oscar buzz over, but the fact that it doesn’t even come close to touching her great supporting role in The Wolf Of Wall Street, something she didn’t even get (but should’ve) nominated for, is baffling to me. Even her portrayal of Harley Quinn was more interesting than this wannabe journalist who is one of Roger Ailes victims. Charlize Theron is really the only one getting praise where it is due, but even then, I have at least a dozen of other better performances this year from actresses that could easily take her nomination spot and be arguably warranted.
But going back to the film’s main fault: it just doesn’t know what it wants to be, and tries too hard to be tongue in cheek and comes out as a mish-mash of genres that doesn’t really work well. It wasn’t comedy, nor drama, nor was it really all that political, and it just said things that have all been said before. All of the sexual allegation stuff seemed to be only surface level, and not digging deep into the problem and maybe having something to say other than just the usual, “speak up” if something to that nature happens to you or support from other victims. All of this just boils down to: THERE. WAS. NO. FOCUS. AT. ALL. The had the story right there, and it seems like there were 7 different writers on it that all gave the script a go, and the end result is some kind of Frankenstein monster that somehow inhabits all of their ideas. Would it surprise you to know that this was done by only one writer though? It doesn’t if you know who he is like I do, Charles Randolph. Yes, he co wrote the fantastic The Big Short, but he had some major help with how that film turned out, and the rest of his filmography, ranging from The Interpreter to The Live of David Gale to Love and Other Drugs, is just not that impressive.
To be honest, I don’t think this is director Jay Roach’s fault. Jay Roach has, I think, a great eye and brings some flair to what the camera captures and onto the frame (look how colorful and stylistic all three Austin Powers movies look like), and here is no different, but his style is completely trampled by a substance that is just too much and too little at the same time. His film and world within that film is bright, colorful, and imaginative, but the screenplay makes it feel like none of that vision is appropriate for the story being told. It says nothing by trying to say too much. This is just a performance movie without a clear message, and it saddens me to say that because I was really looking forward to Bombshell. I was expecting something to the kin of The Big Short, something with a central message and a pin pointed focus to drive home that message without being too preachy. This film wants to be too preachy but instead of preaching a direct message, preaches about a hundred other different things. It went on and on until the point where I just gave up and nodded off because none of it seemed like it was going to drop any kind of true bombshell any time soon.