Behind the Door

What matters in Bombshell isn’t the story itself. Fox News’ internal machinations under Roger Ailes become public spectacle, so Bombshell recounts what news reports already divested to the public.

Instead, it’s how Bombshell makes a viewer understand the pressure, the tension, the unspoken drama, and how the women involved needed to hide who they were – and certainly still do. After anchor Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) makes her assault claims known, she wanders the Fox newsroom. Everyone stares. They make unnerving eye contact. That feeling of being watched for telling the truth creates an understanding of the risks and dangers when coming forward. Bombshell is essential for the “now,” releasing on Blu-ray days after Harvey Weinstein was convicted by a jury for similar crimes.

Bombshell smacks the Fox News method. Characters discuss the best way to scare the AARP crowd, using race and easy-to-recall slurs. Likely, that’s turning away an audience who most needs to see Bombshell, even if they were unlikely to watch in the first place. There is an agenda at work, but to note, this is not tearing down Fox News (as if anyone was unaware of their conservative spin), rather slamming a male-dominated system.

Bombshell is reference material when looking back at the “me too” era

This story becomes an amalgam for this place and time. Replace Aires with Matt Lauer or Weinstein; the story doesn’t inherently change, so much as victims were recognizable public faces. Snappy and rapidly paced, Bombshell is reference material when looking back at the “me too” era a decade in the future, assuming then women finally have their place in corporate structures.

Key is making Bombshell not about the money, the courts, or settlements. There’s relief when that’s over, same as when the impacted women finally relinquish and tell their stories. Bombshell is about a duality, embedded sexism, and how Gretchen Carlson wasn’t worried about payouts so much as bringing criminal action to the public eye. While not the first, seeing this hardened organization shatter from within allowed others to speak up, risking their careers and safety. Bombshell captures how momentous this was, with real world news delivering continuing fallout.

It’s cruel, but honest. That’s critical too. Certain Fox personalities stick up for Ailes. Even when those bit parts fall off-screen, Bombshell finds a way to keep that tension. That leering presence creates whispers and gossip. Allegiances and careers become tested. A few times, Bombshell breaks the fourth wall, with Nicole Kidman looking into the camera and saying what she wants to, but cannot publicly. It’s akin to watching someone verbally strangled, screaming internally, but what can come out is equivalent to a mouse squeak, buried by personal drive, cultural norms, and corporate hierarchy.

Video

Digital cinematography introduces light noise into the image, if only occasionally. Minor blocking shows seams in Lionsgate’s encode, also infrequent.

Small digital touch-up spots (maybe to hide slight makeup imperfections caught in post) pose little harm to fidelity. Bombshell’s overall look excels, with clean close-ups resolving facial detail and wide shots firm in their resolution. Broadcast footage mirrors that of cable, obviously, used sparingly. The rest looks superb.

Lighting doesn’t dim offices under fluorescent bulbs. Contrast works hard in pushing brightness, countered with superlative black levels. A night sequence with Margot Robbie and Kate McKinnon uses little source light, yet holds dimension and contrast. Helping is saturation, tightening the Fox red and blues, then allowing flesh tones room to stay neutral. Primaries build, staying true to a cooler aesthetic.

Audio

Here it is in 2020 and Lionsgate sends a new release to Blu-ray with compressed Dolby Digital. May as well encode the video in MPEG-2 or VC-1 (don’t worry – it’s AVC).

Bombshell doesn’t have a deep need for uncompressed audio; dialog driven dramas typically don’t. There’s nothing in the score demanding sonic range. That said, this undervalues Bombshell’s audio, which excels at creating space on New York streets or in busy newsrooms. A tennis court sends a ball between speakers. Environments create space, and as such, there’s more to this mix than expected. Shame then it isn’t given better treatment.

Extras

Other than a trailer, the 94-minute documentary No Easy Truth goes through the film’s production. The tone is never less than cheery and effusive in its praise for all involved. In that, No Easy Truth is stock material, if well loaded with set clips, interviews, and details.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Bombshell
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  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Bombshell’s story isn’t what matters, rather how Bombshell portrays the pressure, anxiety, and fears of women trying to undue decades of power.

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