One of the major ironies of Fair Game is the title, which asks us to buy into the idea that it was morally wrong of Bush the lesser to out a covert agent of the CIA in an effort to distract attention from a lie that found its way into Bush the lesser's State of the Union speech in January 2003. What makes that ironic is that the person implicitly complaining is a CIA covert operative. In real life, covert operations officers are more or less all about putting target civil servants into impossible positions and taking advantage of them for the greater good of the government that pays them. So for someone who was paid to treat a bunch of foreigners as "fair game" to take umbrage at being treated as fair game herself - well, the thing to do is sit back and muse about it.
There's lots of other ammunition, including a wonderful rabble rousing speech from Sean Penn at the end of the movie asking a pre-stoked audience whether there's something wrong with the fact that the story was moved from whether the President intentionally misled the American people to whether the guy denouncing him was married to a CIA officer. Well, Sean, isn't the whole movie we've just watched ABOUT that distraction, rather than about the weak case for the war? Don't you find that, well, ironic?
Which is not to say that it's a bad movie, I just think it's rather muddled about the who good and bad guys are, and more importantly about what the problem is. Valerie Plame lost her job, and now she's living in Santa Fe. This might well be upsetting, though I hear people are killing each other in Mexico for the chance to live in Santa Fe. Meanwhile, in Iraq, something between 160,000 and God-Knows-How-Many people are dead. Of the two tragedies, I think I know which one deserves some attention.
Having said all that, Naomi Watts is solid and believable and strikingly similar to the original; Sean Penn is solid and strikingly similar to himself, as he usually is. It's not a very action packed film, which is more or less what I expected, but it's odd that they chose Doug Liman to direct; Doug's past form on spy movies includes the first Bourne movie and Mr and Mrs Smith, after all. Mind you, it's about to include something called I just want my pants back, so perhaps it's best to keep an open mind.