A Dark Truth


Groping for the levers of outrage is an OK way to establish a narrative rapport with an audience, and giant and amoral corporations can provide a good fulcrum for hoisting all that righteous indignation, unless you’re Ayn Rand or FreedomWorks or something. A Dark Truth, written and directed by Damian Lee, finds its locus in the real but mostly underreported phenomenon of corporate seizures of public water rights. Andy Garcia is talk radio DJ Jack Begosian, a former CIA agent haunted by his dark past, the lingering guilt of professional sins, etc. A high-level whistle-blower (Deborah Kara Unger) enlists him to go into the Ecuadorian jungle to rescue freedom fighter and corporate bête noire Francisco Francis (Forest Whitaker) from corrupt army factions. The aspiration here seems to be to the kind of sprawling, socially conscious narrative Steven Soderbergh unspooled in Traffic, but the movie keeps getting distracted with cliché boardroom conspiracies, Begosian’s boring marriage, and his pompous talk radio broadcasts. Lee’s generative idea about the corporate seizure of basic resources is pretty great, but the narrative never finds a visual or temporal pace. The writing is strictly basic cable, the characters mouthing the kind of boilerplate older viewers will remember from bad-guy dialogue in the classic trash procedural Silk Stalkings and younger viewers might associate with, oh, the recent Navy Seals or something. The film’s heart is in exactly the right place, but there’s not a brain in its pretty little head.