Is this really my first Spielberg movie I’m reviewing?
I’m certain that Steven Spielberg is incapable of making a bad film. Though there should definitely be some qualifiers on that if The Lost World and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are brought up. At the very least, Spielberg knows how to make an entertaining film and The Post is no different. It is an entertaining film from beginning to end. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it’s as smart of a movie it thinks it is.
The Post follows the events surrounding the Washington Post’s publication of the Pentagon Papers, classified documents regarding the 30-year involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War. Or it portrays the Washington Post’s part in the Pentagon Papers. It touches briefly on the The New York Times’ research and publication of the Papers but only as a source of competition with The Washington Post. The first half of the movie is explaining the financial situation of the Post as it gains new leadership under Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) and moves to a public company.
The main focus of this movie is less on the Pentagon Papers themselves but the decision to publish the Papers. It’s presented as a major, country-altering decision that I’m sure it was at the time, but I felt that the stakes could have been raised a bit more. I wondered if the movie could have focused on both The New York Times and The Washington Post’s roll in the Papers. As it stands now, it feels more like Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep arguing about how to best protect the Washington Post. Play it safe and not publish the papers that proves the government lied to the public or publish it and risk bankruptcy?
There are so many stories that make up the Pentagon Papers that they could have told alongside the Washington Post’s side. Still, I understand them wanting to keep the focus on Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep’s side of things. And they play their parts very well because, again, they can’t really play a bad role (that I’m aware of). Tom Hanks is a suave, hardworking editor of the Post and Meryl Streep it’s owner. They paint Meryl Streep’s character as a feminist icon (not inaccurate), though it was interesting to see her walking down stairs into a crowd of women staring up at her in awe. I noticed that they weren’t too subtle about other things, such as connecting events from the past to current events. Recordings of Nixon saying that the Washington Post is no longer welcome at White House events hit a little close to home.
The Post is an entertaining movie. The story they told wasn’t the story I thought they should have focused on, but I understand them wanting to focus on something smaller than going broad. In the end, it’s not a bad film. Definitely one I would watch again if I had an hour and a half to kill. It’s entertaining and a well put together movie.