The Independent: a political journalism thriller

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The Independenta new political journalism thriller, arrives in the Peacock days before Americans head to the polls for the midterm elections.

The real October surprise? Peacock’s announcement of this thriller! There are so many options this week and that’s not an understatement. If you have election anxiety right now, the movie probably isn’t the best option. Otherwise, I advise you to watch. Hey, there’s Jodie Turner-Smith and Brian Cox in the lead roles. You can’t go wrong with either actor. Cox has been on a roll lately between Succession and a recent turn as a dying prisoner in prisoner’s daughter. If I had known this movie was coming out, I would have said something in September! But I digress.

I like a good political thriller. What I like about this film is that it mixes both politics and journalism. Eli James (Jodie Turner-Smith) is a rookie journalist working for The Washington Chroniclea replacement for the Washington Post. One thing leads to another, she soon finds herself working with iconic journalist Nick Booker (Brian Cox) to investigate a conspiracy. Not just any plot, but a plot that could have a huge impact on the next presidential election. On the election side, it’s a huge presidential election. President Archer (Victor Slezak), the incumbent Democrat, takes on Republican candidate Patricia Turnbull (Ann Dowd) and independent candidate Nate Sterling (John Cena). More often than not, independents don’t have much luck in a presidential election, but Sterling has enough support to take votes away from Turnbull.

John Cena in The Independent. Courtesy of Peacock.

Before Sterling enters the race, there’s that Trump-esque feeling watching him travel across the country on a book tour. I mean, the rally crowds just keep making the comparison. It is an art that imitates life but it is also a reminder of what is happening in our country. No presidential candidate should have a cult campaign. I’m not saying Sterling is Trump, of course. The fact is that independent candidates rarely get so much support. Also, the movie mentions the pandemic as a recent event, but you wouldn’t know that unless there was no reference.

As for the credits, I love that they go with Quincy Jones’ arranged version of “America the Beautiful” sung by Ray Charles. Honestly, this probably isn’t the first song I’d go to for the end credits, but it absolutely works.

A few days before the elections, The Independent reminds us why we need a free and independent press. It’s something I’m thinking about right now as Elon Musk drives good people away from Twitter as he burns the social media platform into the ground. We need a free press to fight the terrible disinformation that is spreading. Films like this are a necessary reminder.

DIRECTOR: Amy Rice
SCREENPLAY: Evan Parter
ACTORS: Jodie Turner-Smith, Brian Cox, Luke Kirby, with Ann Dowd and John Cena

Peacock will launch The Independent on November 2, 2022. Rating: 3.5/5

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