‘Official Secrets’ review: Keira Knightley miscast as whistleblower

It’s the Knightley News!

That’s right, with “Official Secrets” Keira Knightley is forgoing the usual hoop skirt and trying her hand at headlines — and pants.

The role: Katharine Gun, a British woman who in 2003 became famous for being the Iraq War whistleblower.

Gun worked as a translator for the GCHQ — the UK’s equivalent of the NSA — when she received an e-mail requesting intelligence on six United Nations members who were vital votes in the approval of the war in the Middle East. The appalled Gun interpreted the memo as blackmail, and leaked it to the UK’s Observer newspaper. Her life unraveled from there.

There’s nothing wrong with Knightley taking a break from Jane Austen, duchesses and Parisian authors. But she’s gotta commit to the part of an average 9-to-5er. I never once believed her typing away in a swivel chair at what amounts to a clerical gig. Gun should be a very normal person who falls into an extraordinary situation — not a timeless beauty with tear ducts.

The best performance here is that of Matt Smith as Martin Bright, the Observer journalist who fights for the bombshell story. He’s filled with affable smarm, and easily comes down to earth from “The Crown.” Everybody loves a dogged reporter, right? Don’t answer that.

Ralph Fiennes as Gun’s eventual lawyer, however, is totally forgettable, as is much of the standard-issue, self-important docudrama. So much of Gregory Bernstein, Sara Bernstein and Gavin Hood’s screenplay arrives with a thud that it might’ve been written with clenched fists. Knightley’s overwrought performance doesn’t help either.

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