The 2002 TV drama was written and directed by Mick Jackson, while Robert Wiener, Richard Chapman, John Patrick Shanley, and Timothy J Sexton wrote the screenplay. It’s the real life story of US news reporters Robert Wiener ( Michael Keaton ) and his crew, covering the immediate aftermath of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
The film opens up with a fleet of tanks rolling into Kuwait City. CNN reporter Robert takes on the mission of reporting the events surrounding Baghdad. Accomanying him are:
- Producer Ingrid Formanek ( Helena Bonham Carter )
- Reporter Tom Murphy ( Michael Cudlitz )
- Cameraman Mark Biello ( Joshua Leonard )
- & Sound Technician Judy Parler ( Lili Taylor )
Their first story was taken from Iraqi national television. Saddam Hussein ( Jerry Haleva ) “posing” with a five year old British boy being held hostage by Iraq. Robert’s crew quickly becomes the laughing stock of the reporter world when he writes an article in an uncritiquing manner out of paranoia they’d be executed otherwise
Shortly after, Robert meets with the Iraqi Minister of Information. He requests a one hour interview with Saddam Hussein, but is turned down in favor for CBS, instead he allows Robert and his crew to interview American hostages.
Their next story takes place in Iraqi occupied Kuwait, the first American journalists allowed to visit since the occupation. They interview three hospitals, questioning the employees about child murder. Turns out the joke’s on them and they become the story, being the only reporters in Kuwait, a.k.a. the other reporters are jealous as hell at them.
Shortly after, after bargaining with the Minister of Information, they land their interview with Saddam.
Later in the film, after the departure of Tom Murphy, three new reporters are sent to the field. Among them is John Holliman ( John Carroll Lynch ), sporting a blonde haircut, which really doesn’t suit him.
By the ends with Baghdad going up in flames. Robert and his crew report it all live from Baghdad. Pun intended. The Iraqi governmont holding guns to their faces, they keep doing their thing and live to tell the tale.
Live From Baghdad was a well-grounded film. I’m also pleased to say that the overall quality of TV films I’ve seen recently has greatly improved. I guess it probably has to do with the overall stigma that TV movies tend to be rushed and pumped out to lure in customers. Or maybe I’ve just been lucky.
As always, Keaton did a great job portraying the bold reporter. I was also surprised how LFB featured several noteable actors before they were famous. Michael Cudlitz from The Walking Dead, Clark Gregg from the MCU and John Carroll Lynch, for just being an amazingly underrated actor.
As far as pacing goes, sure sometimes it was a little slow, but they did base it off the book and real life happenings of Robert Wiener. So ultimately, they were just doing their best with the blueprint, not to say it was bad in any way. I’d give this reporter flick a 7/10.
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All photos from Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page