I kind of want to read former FBI Director James Comey's autobiographical "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership," of all obnoxious titles, just to see if he really did, as depicted in this Showtime two-part series, or TV movie, based on the book, portray himself as an idealistic boy scout with all the faux integrity of a Capraesque-wannabe dropout from the Aaron Sorkin school of politics as it has never existed. I mean, talk about what a couple bad "The West Wing" episodes is "The Comey Rule." Its idea of clever banter hardly extending beyond a montage and motif of G-men responding, "say more," to information they receive. They even cast the guy from Sorkin's HBO series "The Newsroom" to play Comey--Jeff Daniels, an otherwise fine-enough actor when not serving as a mouthpiece for the drivel of Sorkinisms.
What a stupid framing narrative, too, of former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reading from the book-within-the-book on Comey to the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed bumpkin assistant that's an insulting on-screen stand-in for us, the audience. It's so unbelievably and transparently another device to make Comey, as well as former occupant of Rosenstein's job, Sally Yates, look good by comparison to Rosenstein, who we're supposed to buy as telling a story where he comes across as a tool of a crybaby with poor interpersonal skills. I'm sure we're all now yearning for the warm embrace of a boss who takes the time to ask us what our favorite childhood candy bar was. Get out of town.
Then, there's the lingering look of a wife in the window as her husband arrives home, standing on the walkway to the door, unnecessary underscoring constant as always, reminding one of a Lifetime movie. That whole family dynamic does. Overall, it's merely a soap opera made out of recent political history. And, maybe that wasn't such a bad direction to take. The political junkies that'll be attracted to the project probably won't learn anything new. I didn't. Let alone fall for the hagiographic attempt at cleansing Comey's public image, an apparent political naif who managed to accomplish the rare feat of bringing people from across the partisan divide together in their loathing of his utter mishandling of investigating the campaigns of the two major presidential candidates of the 2016 election, both which monopolized months to years of entertainment news coverage and for both to mostly just fizzle out. Neither candidate was charged with anything, and there were two impeachments during the subsequent presidential term, but neither were for this.
It's not only random people who approach the Comey family or that they overhear in scenes in the series, either, who believe the most consequential thing Comey accomplished was getting Trump elected president. That's not to say there's not countless other factors that obviously go into the result of an election, but take his October surprise of a letter to Congress concerning the reopening of the investigation into Clinton's emails out of the equation, and we're probably talking about President Hillary Clinton. Possibly America's most famous political pollster, Nate Silver, for example, has analyzed and written as much on his fivethirtyeight website. Incredulously, too, the most sound rationale presented here for Comey's decision is that the FBI had already leaked this information to Rudy Giuliani, so why not officially confirm it a week away from a presidential election seeming to be the illogic.
It didn't even matter that he didn't give another grandstanding press conference on the supposed reservoir of trust in the FBI. Are we talking about the same organization derived from J. Edgar Hoover, that historically has routinely violated civil liberties, illegally spied on and attacked American citizens, including against Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, contributed to unrest in Latin America, failed to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the attack on the U. S. Capitol? But, sure, enormous reservoir of trust there even before--never mind Russian election interference--this nominally non-partisan law enforcement agency of the U. S. government interfered in the election for the most important job in the world. Not only more important than the FBI's reputation, but doing so did that reputation absolutely no favors. The irony that Comey was fired by the man he got elected to be his boss hardly seems so tragic by comparison.
Maybe the best thing this show has going for it is the curiosity to see how newsmakers are embodied by the actors. Whatever appeal the show has certainly isn't for its TV-levels of poor lighting and production values, ugly color correction, and the aforementioned over-scoring, dull dialogue and derivative narrative devices. Indisputably, the star in this respect is Brendan Gleeson's grotesque President Trump, which under mounds of make-up is both terrifying and comical. It's something to behold, all right. Just as a performance, it's quite mesmerizing, but, again, it's not as though it offers a revealing portrait of a public figure that we're all very familiar with already. It does put to shame how little Daniels looks like Comey, though. Even on the height, Daniels is a fairly tall guy, but he's point-guard in the NBA levels of tall, whereas Comey is the height of a forward--look at the photos of him towering over others--and with a more slender frame than Daniels. That's what in reality made him trying to hide from President Trump before the photo-op handshake all the more funny; people being closer to seven-feet-tall than to six-feet-tall finding it challenging to hide while confined in a room.
Additionally, I liked Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X in "One Night in Miami" (2020/2021), but his President Obama looks childish. Sure, for a president, he was young at the age of 47 when elected and, still, at 55 when his second term expired, but that's still a good number of years past the early 30s of Ben-Adir, who here looks very much like a young man in his early 30s. A good rule of thumb should be to cast someone who is actually old enough to meet the age requirement of 35 to be president to play one on TV. Otherwise, it looks ridiculous--like something out of a Saturday Night Live skit, especially when Gleeson is out-doing Alec Baldwin in running caricature circles around you. I suppose that's what Gleeson and his make-up artists leaned into and realized more than everyone else here, that "The Comey Rule" is a grotesque exercise in caricature.
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