Hired scribe Ewan McGregor gets into deep water in the political thriller The Ghost Writer (©2010 Summit Entertainment, all rights reserved).
Movie previews of The Ghost Writer leave us with high expectations for this political thriller starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, and a gaggle of celebs who all give commanding performances under the fine direction of Roman Polanski. But along with all of the intrigue and suspense lies a wrinkle of incredibility.
Based on the novel of BBC reporter Robert Harris called The Ghost, The Ghost Writer is inspired by Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom Harris supported until the Iraq War, along with other familiar politicians including members of the Bush/ Cheney regime.
Ewan McGregor plays “The Ghost,” a ghost writer hired to rewrite the memoirs of Britain’s former Prime Minister Adam Lang (Brosnan), who has retired to the U.S. on Martha’s Vineyard. But the doo-doo hits the fan right from the opening scene when the body of Lang’s first ghost writer washes ashore. So the new ghost (McGregor) signs a lucrative contract to pick up where the dead writer left off. Hey, what could go wrong?
From the moment he boards the plane in London bound for Massachusetts, The Ghost is in over his head, especially when Lang is suddenly accused of war crimes. Because this writer would never be satisfied punching up some fluffy prose. He’s the kind of writer who searches for truth, who wants to look beyond the airbrush for the real details of Lang’s political life, and uncover how the first ghost writer fell off the ferry.
But this nameless writer is too curious for his own good. He forges the sort of investigation we would expect from a team of FBI agents, putting his life on the line and being all too eager to report what he learns. As viewers, we want to warn him to dial back his enthusiasm, to just polish the prose, cash his paycheck, and relax in the Bahamas. Because with all of his eagerness, he eventually crosses that line that leads us into that foggy domain of . . . huh? The bottom line is that The Ghost Writer is suspenseful, intriguing, and well directed. But the story is what it is, a long trail of foolish risks blazed by a naïve writer working alone. B-
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