The Post has a lot going for it. It stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, two of the biggest actors in modern cinema and it’s directed by one of the most beloved directors of all time, Steven Spielberg. While it has its moments, and the performances are quite good, I ultimately found The Post disappointing.
The film opens with Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst for the State Department, accompanying troops into combat during the Vietnam War. His job is to assess the military progress in the region for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. On their way home, McNamara says that he thinks the war is hopeless, yet he tells reporters how confident he is in the war effort when they land. Ellsberg overhears this.
Years later, Ellsberg photocopies classified documents detailing the progress of the Vietnam War (eventually known as the Pentagon Papers) and leaks the reports to The New York Times. This is about the time where we’re introduced to Katherine Graham (Merlyl Streep), the owner of The Washington Post after her late husband’s death, and Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), her editor-in-chief. Ben discovers that the Times has an expose on those documents, although they’re stopped from publishing their full series due to a court injunction. Ben decides the Post must get their hands on these papers and expose the larger story. Katherine then is tasked with having to decide whether to publish and fight for the freedom of the press, or back down to guarantee the safety of her paper.
I found the film to be quite boring. It does move quickly, and all of the performances are solid, but the content just didn’t grip me. I didn’t feel the urgency or the intensity that I believe Spielberg wanted the audience to feel. The Post fell flat.
Streep is great as Katherine and Hanks is equally impressive as Ben, but quite frankly these are not even close to their best performances. Don’t get me wrong, they’re two of the finest actors still working, but I didn’t find either performance to be especially noteworthy. There were a couple women that deserved a best actress nomination over Streep at the Oscars this year.
All in all, skip this one unless you’re really interested in history or this particular scandal or at the least wait to watch this one at home.