Movies based on true stories always carry a certain expectation, as well as a major responsibility. You can only make a story so exciting without embellishing the facts and you can only be so creative with real-life characters. That's why 'Fair Game' is aimed squarely at fans of the political thriller genre.
CIA operative Valerie Plame (portrayed by Watts) was the focus of global media attention when her covert status was compromised by an internal leak, threatening the safety of her family. As part of a team investigating the trade of materials with the potential to become part of nuclear weapons, Plame travelled the world in the course of her work, which remained a secret to those closest to her.
But when the CIA calls upon the expertise of her husband Joe Wilson (Penn), a former diplomat, everything begins to change. After a trip to Niger to investigate alleged shipments of yellowcake/uranium, Wilson concludes that the evidence available to him does not point towards the traffic of materials for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. But his findings are not helpful to the US government's cause and so must be kept quiet.
What follows is the story of Plame and Wilson's marriage disintegrating, their lives no longer being their own and Wilson's battle to clear their names through intense media retaliation, in spite of his wife's wish to retreat from the public glare.
Somewhat disjointed in the telling - with the possibility of confusion if you're not well versed in the political goings-on of the time - 'Fair Game' is, however, pacey and hard-hitting. Watts is believable throughout, convincing with both the personal and professional elements of Plame's world, while Penn is the show-stealer as her outspoken husband.
Movie fans who delight in conspiracy theories and political toing-and-froing will enjoy sinking their teeth into 'Fair Game', but if you've no interest in the genre then this probably won't convert you.