'Spotlight' is hard-hitting but has too many journalism tropes

'Spotlight' stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams as Boston Globe editors and writers who reported on the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.

Kerry Hayes/Open Road Films/AP
Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer (from l. to r.), Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes and Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll in a scene from the film 'Spotlight'

Writer-director Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight” puts the high beams on the Boston Globe’s 2002 exposé of the Roman Catholic Church’s institutional protection of sexually abusive priests. Michael Keaton plays the paper’s investigative-team leader, and other good actors, including Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James, and Neal Huff, also make their marks.

The film is often straightforward and hard-hitting. But it plays out all the usual tropes of the investigative-journalism genre – the hot tips, the clandestine meetings, the hand-wringing about ethics, etc. – without adding a jot of novelty. Grade: B (Rated R for language, sexual references.)

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