When a gang of crooks stumble upon a police surveillance team mid heist, a vicious gunfight ensues. Good coppers are lost, the crooks get away with a haul of cash and with the whole affair caught on camera, the Moscow police force are left humiliated. In a desperate bid to claw back credibility, senior officers draft in their PR director, Katya (Mashkova), to help repair their shattered reputation. The ambitious high flyer soon unveils her master plan; a never before seen reality show, chronicling the polices valiant efforts to capture the crooks and bring them to justice.
The proposal is instantly accepted, and an elite troop of special forces are scrambled, kitted out with state of the art cameras to catch all the action as it happens. The force is soon hot on the tail of the desperate crooks, cornering them at a sprawling apartment block. When hostages are taken and the police are again left reeling, Katya is quick to turn the shameful footage around, drafting in an advertising director to help put some much needed spin on the whole debacle. However the resourceful gangsters soon get wise to Katya and begin broadcasting their own version of events online, leading to a heated information war between cops and crooks.
A remake of the 2004 Hong Kong thriller called Breaking News; Newsmakers still feels a contemporary and relevant film. Reality television might have been a fresher concept six years ago, but the satirical blow the story deals to the unsavoury world of news media is as current as ever, perhaps even more so.
While largely entertaining, Newsmakers suffers from some real pacing issues that mean, at times, the film loses focus. At its best, the movie excels as a cutthroat contemporary satire, but rather than play to these strengths the director has a tendency to dwell elsewhere. The gruelling shootouts and action set pieces, while entertaining and expertly executed, are unnecessarily long and indulgent. Theres also the distinct whiff of the common cop movie at times, which rather than work as an effective support to the film, proves distracting. These elements arent poorly handled in their own right, but it makes for a muddled overall picture.
While given more or less equal screen time, the conflicting factions of characters appear too sporadically for the films message to achieve any real balance. Katya and her PR machine are handled the most effectively, making for some of the films best moments, but the gang of crooks and the rabble of old fashioned cops caught in the middle arent allowed the same attention. The villainous robbers are awarded great stretches of screen time, but this actually works against the film; painting them out as endearing, salt of the earth sorts rather than the indiscriminate murderers they really are. Elsewhere, old school cop Smirnov (Merzlikin) and his trusted team appear too fleetingly to make much of an impact, and when they are returned to, the film usually resorts back to a by the numbers action romp.
Overall Verdict: Part satire, part action romp; Newsmakers is at times unfocused, but overall a thoroughly entertaining ride.
Reviewer: David Steele