Review: In ‘Mark Felt,’ Liam Neeson Is the Man Known as Deep Throat

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Liam Neeson as Mark Felt, the F.B.I. figure who was instrumental in helping to unravel Watergate.

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Bob Mahoney/Sony Pictures Classics

True story: As the executive branch of the American government is revealed to be a sinkhole of corruption and deceit, a career F.B.I. man with silver hair and a reputation for righteousness takes up the thankless task of investigating the suspected wrongdoing and attendant cover-up. Just so we’re clear: I’m describing the premise of a new movie starring Liam Neeson. What did you think?

The movie is “Mark Felt — the Man Who Brought Down the White House,” and the headlines from which it was ripped are more than four decades old. The title sounds like a category error, since the White House, as of this writing, is still standing. But Mark Felt, though almost nobody knew back in the ’70s, was undoubtedly instrumental in ending the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. The associate director of the F.B.I. at the time of the Watergate burglary, Felt entered the annals of Nixon-era scandal as Deep Throat, a pseudonym bestowed by the Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

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Trailer: ‘Mark Felt’

A preview of the film.


By SONY PICTURES CLASSICS on Publish Date September 28, 2017.


Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive.

Watch in Times Video »

Felt, who didn’t much like the name, identified himself as Mr. Woodward’s source in 2005. The memoir he published before his death in 2008 has been turned, by the writer and director Peter Landesman, a former journalist, into a hectic, intermittently intriguing and accidentally timely procedural thriller, with Mr. Neeson in the title role. His face as sharp as the blade of a hatchet, his brow creased with his weariness and his eyes ablaze with indignation, Mr. Neeson is a mighty presence on a small, cramped stage.

The word Shakespearean often attaches itself to the Nixon administration — it’s an adjective that marks the place where political power intersects with moral instability — and “Mark Felt” tries to infuse some dramatic…

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