Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House Parent Guide
This complex movie will give provides food for thought for adults and older teens with an interest in history, politics or ethics.
Parent Movie Review
By Kirsten Hawkes
“Mark Felt. Integrity. Bravery. Fidelity. The G-man’s G-Man.” What happens when the values that define a man’s life collide?
In 1972, Mark Felt is Associate Director of the FBI when a break-in occurs at the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate office complex. As Felt and his agents look in to the incident, they realize it is more than a routine crime. The burglars, who planted listening devices, are past CIA or FBI agents, some with direct ties to the White House and possibly President Richard M Nixon.
It is a difficult time for the FBI to be faced with a politically sensitive investigation. The Bureau’s feared and controversial director, J Edgar Hoover has just died, after almost 40 years at the helm. He’s left behind a culture of fear, paranoia and a relative disregard for the constitutional niceties of search warrants. Felt, expected to be Hoover’s successor, sees L Patrick Gray (Marton Csokas) appointed in his stead.
Gray is a Nixon loyalist, and as his agents find an increasing number of connections between Watergate and the President, Gray gives in to political pressure and orders an end to the search. Felt is outraged because he and his agents now know that the corruption reaches into the White House. “No one can stop the driving force of an FBI investigation” says Felt. “Not even the FBI.” But there will be a cost to Felt in protecting the inquiry.
Liam Neeson ably portrays Felt’s turmoil as he struggles with conflicting values and emotions. He is forced to weigh his loyalty to the Bureau, his anger at being passed over for the directorship, his obligation as a law enforcement professional to stop corruption and crime even at the highest levels, and the betrayal of a lifetime of discretion. He finally decides to leak classified information to Sandy Smith (Bruce Greenwood) at Time Magazine and Bob Woodward (Julian Morris) at The Washington Post.
The Post’s Woodward and Carl Bernstein are persistent and with the information they receive from Felt (whom they refer to as Deep Throat), they keep Watergate in the public eye. Nixon is re-elected in 1972, but as the cover up unravels, his complicity is undeniable, and the President resigns in 1974.
History has vindicated Felt’s choice to share the documents that exposed presidential corruption. But the movie does not glamorize Felt’s actions. As it becomes apparent there is a breach of information within the FBI, trust frays and anxieties rise. Individual agents also see their careers derailed as unwanted transfers come to those in the Watergate investigation. Felt recognizes the wider consequences of his decision, and Neeson’s face bears witness to his anguish.
Mark Felt is primarily a movie about ethics and ideals. As such there is virtually no violence or sexual content. However, there is ample profanity, including terms of deity. Alcohol and tobacco are frequently used by major and minor characters.
Given the complexity of the topic Mark Felt is clearly not a movie for young children. But adults and older teens with an interest in history, politics or ethics will likely find a lot to think about and discuss in this film.Directed by Peter Landesman. Starring Liam Neeson, Marton Csokas, Diane Lane. Running time: 103 minutes. Theatrical release September 29, 2017. Updated April 26, 2018
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
Rating & Content Info
Why is Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House rated PG-13? Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some language.
Violence: There is no physical violence. Characters utter veiled threats against the careers or reputations of other characters, which lead to fear and distress.
Sexual Content: Two women are shown nursing babies. They are obviously topless, but there is no frontal exposure.
Profanity: Terms of deity are used throughout the movie. A sexual expletive is used three times in a non-sexual context. Mild expletives are used five times.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Both alcohol and tobacco are used frequently by major and minor characters. Major characters smoke and drink as a response to stress. The lead character is shown in a bar after having had too much to drink.
Page last updated April 26, 2018
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House Parents' Guide
The world of Mark Felt feels startlingly contemporary in 2017 and 2018. With an American President under FBI scrutiny, the Bureau being put under enormous political pressure to abandon or scale back the investigation, and leaks driving media stories, the issues raised in this movie resonate today.
Mark Felt raises questions which are still relevant. How much power should law enforcement agencies have? How can law enforcement be protected from political pressure while remaining subject to civilian oversight? When is it morally necessary to commit a breach of trust and leak material that proves criminal acts or corruption? Is the cost of the betrayal worth the final result?
Mark Felt is driven to investigate the corruption surrounding Richard Nixon’s White House. But at the same time, Felt is ordering warrantless searches, effectively breaking the law. Is law enforcement ever justified in acting illegally? Are there moral differences between the actions of Nixon and Felt?
In the movie, Mark Felt says “There’s a price to pay for what we become.” What price does he pay? Does his family pay a price? Is it worth it?
News About "Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House"
This movie tells the story of Mark Felt, also known as Deep Throat, the FBI Associate Director who leaked classified material to reporters during the Watergate scandal. Outraged at the pressure the Nixon White House was exerting against the Bureau in an attempt to shut down the investigation, Felt leaked information to reporters who would keep the issues raised by Watergate in the public eye. Learn more about: The Watergate chronology. Mark Felt and Watergate. Who’s Who in Watergate.
The most recent home video release of Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House movie is January 9, 2018. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
Release Date: 9 January 2018.
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House releases to home video (DVD and Blu-ray) with the following extras:
- Deleted & Extended Scenes
- “The Secrets of Making Mark Felt” Featurette
- Audio Commentary with Director Peter Landesman
Related home video titles:
The Post also grapples with issues of leaks and loyalty as it dramatizes the political and legal pressure exerted on The Washington Post by the Nixon administration to stop the publication of the leaked Pentagon Papers.