I looked at the iMdb page for Edison. I was amazed, a film starring Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, Justin Timberlake, Cary Elwes and… LL Cool J which I had not only never seen but never heard of? Why? WHY?
Because it is total shit.
This straight to DVD, conspiracy-thriller-by-the-numbers, follows fresh-faced reporter Pollack, played by Justin Timberlake as he uncovers a shady department in a police force full of corrupt cops. Along the way he teams up with a jaded newspaper editor, Morgan Freeman and a suspicious district attorney, Kevin spacey.
To begin with, I was on board with the film. As Pollack peeled back the layers on the story I was intrigued, I wanted to know what was happening.
But, then the film goes from 0 to stupid in about 10 seconds. The entire rest of the plot is splurged out by Spacey in one quick monologue and the film can get on with what it really wants to do. Show LL Cool J shooting stuff.
FUN FACT: LL Cool J insisted on being referred to by his character name Rafe Deed at all times on set. I had no idea he was so method!
What can journalists learn from this?
In Edison, Pollack only gets the story because he spots something most reporters might have glossed over. The film opens with a scene to tell the audience just how bad these cops are. They bust into a crack den only to shoot a guy and arrest the other for manslaughter.
They convince the man that they have arrested that they have just done him a favour, he is tried for manslaughter not murder and not for possession with intent to supply or for squatting. He will face a shorter prison sentence because of this.
As the defendant is sentenced, he leaves the dock and turns to the corrupt cop and says ‘thank you’.
Pollack spots this and is immediately suspicious. This sets him on the path to uncover what is, to be fair a great, if far-fetched, story.
He tries to write the story up but it is obviously un-substantiated. In teaming up with his grouchy editor, the jaded freeman he learns a valuable lesson. Everything must be supported by evidence for the story to stand-up, no conjecture and no guesswork.
Pollack learns that to get a watertight, dynamite story he must put the legwork in, he must work hard.
The film ends with what might be a valuable lesson, but I have no idea what it is supposed to mean: “Justice is like journalism, sometimes the best questions are the ones you decide not to ask.” What?