In a post-Me Too world, the downfall of Roger Ailes seems to be the perfect story to tell in regards to abuse of power and holding abusers accountable. The former head of Fox News ruined the lives of countless women over several decades from high profile names that still grace our screens to those ladies whose names have been lost to history. Roger Ailes died in May 2017, but the toxic culture he created to peddle sex disguised as news has not completely disappeared. No matter what side of the political spectrum you find yourself, the story of how these women fought back against this powerful predator is worth telling. Bombshell takes the experiences of three different women at varying stages in their career and explores how the culture at Fox News impacted them.
The film primarily focuses on Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), the shining star of Fox News that is on the eve of co-moderating the 2016 Republican debate at the beginning of the film. Theron completely disappears into this role with her perfect interpretation of Kelly’s vocal delivery along with some of the most impressive makeup to be put to film. After the debate, our now-President turns the Fox News base against Kelly, which impacts her both professionally and personally. She weathers this storm by seeking advice from her boss Roger Ailes (an unrecognizable John Lithgow), to whom she has a tacit loyalty. Theron plays this loyalty as a thing that is not completely comfortable or earned, but instead demanded. At all times, Ailes has a demeanor that on the surface is jovial and supportive, but has a sinister streak that is just behind the eyes.
As Kelly is navigating her turbulent situation, the more senior Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) is having a downturn in her career. Kidman embodies the fiery spirit of Carlson, but in comparison to her costars she is given the least to do despite being the catalyst for the plot. Carlson is seen being ousted from her prime spot as co-host on Fox & Friends and relegated to her own less popular show where she tries to shake up the status quo by engaging in atypical Fox News behavior. Carlson has her own history with Ailes, but she quickly realizes she is reaching the end of her time at the network as she falls out of favor with him. The details of this leads to the main focus of the film, a legal battle in which she alleges that Ailes sexually harassed her in the past and the search to prove she is not the only one. Her fight to expose this man for his misdeeds leads her on a crusade to convince women to come forward even in the fear of retribution.
The only character in the movie not based on an actual person is the newly hired Kayla Popisil (Margot Robbie), a composite character based on the experiences of various Fox News employees. Kayla is ambitious and excited to be working for the organization that mirrors her viewpoints. As she makes moves to go from behind the scenes to on-camera, she comes face to face with Ailes in one of the most unsettling scenes of the movie. This character is essential to the movie, as the audience does not have any real-life baggage to associate with her. This leaves the viewer with a clean slate on which to paint the horrors enacted by Roger. Robbie turns in a heartbreaking performance as a woman who is stripped bare of her confidence and self-esteem. She is the emotional core in a film that could have used a bit more depth to truly resonate.
This movie has a lot going for it, but it never really does anything to transcend into a truly great movie. It is filled with really great performance, especially from Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron, but the script is very by the numbers and does not delve deep enough into the characters. There is also a disconcerting feeling you get while watching since the audience is very sympathetic to what the characters are going through, but we also know that these women have peddled a lot of misinformation and hate through their platform. These characters may have been less likable if they had went deeper into their lives and emotions, but it would have resulted in a stronger, more compelling film.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment brings Bombshell to Blu-Ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.39:1. While it would have been nice to see a 4K UHD release for the film, the transfer presented here is a very solid presentation with fine detail that remains consistent throughout. Skin tones are handled well and look natural alongside the flashy outfits that the women are made to wear throughout. There is very minor loss of detail in some of the darker scenes in the studio, but for the most part the movie looks great despite nothing overwhelmingly flashy being presented.
Unfortunately for fans of dynamic audio, this disc only provides lossy audio in the form of a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. This seems like something that could have easily been avoided, and the inclusion of a lossless audio track would have made audiophiles very happy. As it stands, the track sounds good and clearly presents dialogue even during the more bustling scenes. Though there are not a lot of busy scenes, the surround sound is presented well when they do appear. The lack of a lossless audio track does make this sound slightly neutered, but the track does not sound bad by any means.
- Theatrical Trailer
- No Easy Truths: The Making of Bombshell (1080p; 1:34:08) – This seven-part feature length documentary offers an in depth look at pretty much anything you would want to know about Bombshell from development to casting and more. The seven parts are broken into the following segments:
- Convergence: Genesis Of The Film
- Quid Pro Quo: Charlize, Nicole, Margot, John
- Human Dynamics: The Ensemble Cast
- Breaking The Fourth Wall: Visual Design
- Layer By Layer: Make-Up, Hair & Clothing
- A Unique Skill Set: Jay Roach
- Catalyst For Change: Parting Thoughts
Bombshell is an important story that is well acted, but does not rise to the status of an excellent movie. Nevertheless, the movie is very entertaining and worth a watch considering all of the talent involved. The Blu-Ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment boasts nice visual and audio quality along with some really engaging special features. Recommended
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.