Just imagine what “Bombshell” (Lionsgate) would have been like if it had been directed by a woman instead of Jay Roach. Roach is the man who directed all three Austin Powers movies as well as the first two movies in the “Meet the Parents” franchise.
See where this is going? Seriously, think of how much better “Bombshell” would have been if it had been written by a woman instead of Charles Randolph. The techniques utilized by Randolph in his far superior screenplay for “The Big Short” simply fall as flat as Roger Ailes’ heartrate when the dirty old bastard finally died in 2017.
“Bombshell” calls itself “a dramatization inspired by actual events”. In reality, it’s a coulda/woulda kinda movie. A completely missed opportunity that takes’ Ailes “frighten and titillate” mantra as a challenge. The story of the downfall of repugnant sexual predator Roger Ailes (played by John Lithgow) at the hands of sexual harassment victims, including Megyn Kelly (a respectable Charlize Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and the fictional composite Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), didn’t need all the breaking down of the fourth wall and confusingly alternating between vintage and original footage. What it needed was better and more focused storytelling.
Whether you love or hate Kelly and Carlson, we’re all familiar to some degree with what happened to them during their tenures at Fox News where they went from reporting the news to becoming the news. The glacial-paced downfall of Ailes, a paranoid monster with a serious eating disorder, is presented in all of its ugly glory. His unhinged confrontations with Rupert Murdoch (Malcolm McDowell) and sons Lachlan (Ben Lawson) and James (Josh Lawson), are particularly juicy. The scenes with Ailes’ lawyer Susan Estrich (Allison Janney) are also captivating.
But as it turns out, “Bombshell”’s most explosive moments involve the scenes with the made-up characters. Kayla and her office-mate Jess (scene-stealer Kate McKinnon) make “Bombshell” worth watching. Kayla, an “evangelical millennial influencer”, rises through the ranks, guided by the sleazy Bill Shine (Mark Moses). Loyal to the network, Kayla has no problem switching her allegiance from Carlson to Bill O’Reilly (Kevin Dorff) in the name of career advancement. Sadly, she also falls victim to Ailes.
On the bright side, Kayla also gets useful advice from Jess, such as “no crying at Fox”. Additionally, Kayla and Jess begin a clandestine sexual relationship. Yes, you read that right. Jess, a closeted Democrat with a picture of Hillary Clinton on her home refrigerator, and Kayla are there for each other throughout, proving the power of sisterhood.
Pretty much a disappointment any way you look at it, “Bombshell” is only a knockout when Robbie and McKinnon mutually light up the screen.