Hostile Newspaper Whines About Portrayal of Terrorist's Wife in Bombing Film

January 15th, 2017 7:00 PM

Local newspapers often toast natives who make it big in Hollywood. Only The Denver Post's John Wenzel took a decidedly different approach to former resident turned Supergirl, Melissa Benoist.

The Littleton, Colo. native, who stars in the CW series Supergirl, spoke to the newspaper to promote Patriots Day, her latest project. The film recalls the 2013 terrorist attack during the Boston City Marathon which killed three and left dozens severely wounded.

The interview started out in a friendly fashion. And The Denver Post was under no obligation to throw softballs Benoist’s way. Still, Wenzel threw two mean-spirited questions at the star. You wonder if the actress regretted doing the interview in the first place.

Benoist plays the wife of one of the bombers, a convert to Islam who claims she didn’t know about the attack preparation. It’s a small role, but she does have one powerful scene late in the movie, the kind that many actresses would love to play.

That’s not how The Denver Post saw it. The interviewer throws this insulting question at Benoist.

Q: Having seen the film, I’m confident saying it’s a pretty small and thankless role. Why take on something like that when you’ve already got the profile and traction from Supergirl and other films?

Newsflash: In today’s Hollywood, big stars often take on smaller roles. Heck, it’s considered hip to do a cameo these days. And Benoist’s show isn’t a smash, so getting exposure via a small but critical role was probably a brilliant idea.

Why insult her with that phrasing? A more astute reporter could have teased an answer out with a more professionally phrased approach.

Later, Wenzel throws this question at the actress:

Q: Did you see the news that the lawyer of the woman you portrayed said she had no foreknowledge of the events, contrary to the movie?

Again, the interviewer is flat-out accusatory. What else would the woman’s lawyer say? Why should we take the lawyer’s word as gospel?

More importantly, why the hostility toward this film? Maybe it’s because Patriots Day offers an unvarnished view of the terrorist attack without trying to “explain” the bombers’ rationale. It’s a movie BuzzFeed called the "first film of Trump's America." 

That’s meant as an insult, even though movie goers just gave the film an A+ CinemaScore.

The Denver Post journalist attacks Benoist’s character once more when reviewing the film in a separate article. To back up his attack, he cites his own interview with Benoist as proof the movie got the role wrong.

Less firm are aspects like Benoist’s Russell. She gets a tense, juicy interrogation scene at the end, but it’s one that has been disputed by her real-life counterpart’s lawyer (he claims she was never party to the planning and has always cooperated with investigators). In that light, the drama feels not only forced but rote, as if screenwriters Berg, Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer mindlessly magnetized to the beats of political/spy thriller for no other reason than to lend the proceedings some third-act gravitas.

The New York Times asserted that Patriot's Day is safe to see because it's set in a liberal town.