Film Review - Bombshell

This image released by Lionsgate shows Charlize Theron, from left, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie in a scene from “Bombshell.”

You saw the story play out on the evening news. You saw the TV movie starring Russell Crowe. So, why bother to see another telling of Fox TV honcho Roger Ailes’ fall from grace?

Well, the casting is reason enough ...

Here, we have John Lithgow in full-blubber makeup as Ailes. Charlize Theron is a dead ringer for Megan Kelly. Nicole Kidman channels Gretchen Carlson. And Margot Robbie as a composite character called Kayla Pospisil.

Plus, we encounter Malcolm McDowell as Rupert Murdoch, Ben and Josh Lawson as Murdoch’s sons, Spencer Garrett as Sean Hannity, Marc Evan Jackson as Chris Wallace, P.J. Bryne as Neil Cavuto, Tricia Helfer as Alisyn Camerota, Allana Ubach as Judge Jeanine Pirro, and Richard Kind as Rudy Giuliani.

Also, a supporting cast that includes Allison Janney, Kate McKinnon, Mark Duplass, Connie Britton, Holland Taylor and Stephen Root.

But despite the dazzling lineup of stars, there’s a message here worth repeating. It’s as old as Greek Tragedy — how hubris brings about a fall from grace.

This familiar story recounts the series of sexual allegations against Ailes by Fox News personnel. In addition to settling a lawsuit with Fox News anchor Carlson, the company reportedly made separate settlements with at least two other women who made complaints about Ailes.

Think of the film as a remnant of the #metoo movement. The title comes from the explosive nature of the events, the toppling of Ailes, CEO of Fox News and the Fox Television Stations Group.

This was a biggie, perhaps larger than Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey and Matt Lauer put together. A major media figure, Ailes molded Fox News into one of the most powerful, influential television networks in history. A diehard conservative, he acted as a consultant to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani and Donald J. Trump.

On July 21, 2016, Ailes resigned from Fox News, receiving a $40 million exit package. He passed away the following year at 77.

Ailes once said, “I don’t care about my legacy. It’s too late. My enemies will create it, and they’ll push it.”

But maybe he created it himself.

Shirrel Rhoades is a film critic and former media executive. He previously served as executive vice president of Marvel Entertainment and has produced several movies and documentaries. He was also a senior faculty member of New York University’s Center for Publishing. He lives in Key West, Florida, and Lake Lure, North Carolina. Contact him at

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