'Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House' leaves Felt's motivations ambiguous

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

As written and directed by Peter Landesman, the movie is a straightforward nuts-and-bolts affair of no particular consequence, except for Neeson’s performance.

Bob Mahoney/Sony Pictures Classics/AP
Liam Neeson stars in 'Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.'

Liam Neeson cuts an imposing figure in his movies, even those in which he is not required to hunt down really, really bad guys.

Actually, in his new movie, he is still hunting down bad guys, just not in the usual slam-bang way. In “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House,” Neeson plays the eponymous FBI agent who, as was revealed many years later, was the infamous Deep Throat in the Watergate scandal. As Neeson plays him, Felt is a J. Edgar Hoover loyalist who feels betrayed by the Nixon administration when he’s passed over for the top job upon Hoover’s death. Believing that L. Patrick Gray, Nixon’s handpicked successor to Hoover, won’t credibly investigate the Watergate break-in, Felt ends up going rogue, spilling beans to Bob Woodward in, yes, deserted underground parking lots.

As written and directed by Peter Landesman, the movie is a straightforward nuts-and-bolts affair of no particular consequence, except for Neeson’s performance, which rightly does not resolve the question: Was Felt acting nobly or vengefully? Grade: C+ (Rated PG-13 for some language.)

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