The decade's most triggering comedy
“The Comey Rule” likely wrapped production before COVID-19 shut down Hollywood along with the rest of the country. So it’s understandable that recent headlines surround the Russia collusion narrative, details that obliterate its remaining credibility, couldn’t make the final cut. Consider:
What about The Mueller Report?
Remember the 2019 document that found no proof that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election?
Not only is there zero mention of that historic investigation in the film or its final text, “The Comey Rule” suggests the 2020 election is already bought and paid for by Mother Russia on Trump’s behalf.
Like in 2016.
This isn’t Resistance Fan Fiction. It’s one of the most deeply dishonest productions in recent memory. It shouldn’t be banned or canceled, just mocked into oblivion.
The two-part event, airing Sept. 27 and 28 on Showtime, begins with the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s home-brewed email server. It’s a rote dramatization of recent history, something liberals blame for the former First Lady’s shocking electoral defeat … along with Russia, Facebook ads, Fake News, sexism, and low information voters.
That’s just a partial list from Hillary Clinton herself.
The meat of the miniseries, and the reason it exists in the first place, is to cover the dawn of the Russia collusion scandal. Or non-scandal, as we eventually found out.
Tell that to writer/director Billy Ray (“Shattered Glass”), who designed “The Comey Rule” as a cautionary tale voters must see before Election Day. There’s so much fiction, and obfuscation, here it’s hard to know where to begin.
Let’s start with Part 1, which focuses on then-FBI director James Comey’s unenviable task — investigating if Clinton broke the law by bypassing traditional email methods.
The miniseries opens with Stephen Colbert, of all people, asking his “Late Show” crowd if Comey (Jeff Daniels) was a good guy or a bad guy via a CBS clip.
The answer is obvious. The Left saw Comey as a monster for investigating Clinton in the first place, and his fangs grew longer after he re-opened said investigation mere weeks before the 2016 election.
Once Comey took on Trump, though, he became a Resistance hero. All was forgiven, and then some. Now, he has the miniseries to prove it. “The Comey Rule” is first and foremost a love letter to Comey, a public figure who avoided partisanship at all costs, we’re told, because he loves his country so very, very much.
This is the same Comey who happily told MSNBC — in 2018 — how he ignored standard protocols while interviewing Gen. Michael Flynn. The same Comey-led FBI which tried to “get [Flynn] to lie” in order to “prosecute him or get him fired.”
As a protagonist he’s a dud, especially with Daniels playing him as a cocktail of arrogance and pained acceptance. D.C. just wouldn’t adhere to his all-American excellence, letting him down time and again.
And that’s before a brash real estate mogul enters the frame.
Part 1 sets up the key players, including Sally Yates (Holly Hunter in full superheroine mode), under oath liar Andy McCabe (Michael Kelly), Lisa Page (Oona Chaplin), and Peter Strzok (Steven Pasquale). They must figure out if Clinton knowingly broke the law or directed her team to mass delete her (yoga) emails.
In between, we see glimpses of the upcoming Part 2, including shots of two wily Russian agents discussing how to sabotage Clinton’s presidential dreams.
“Ever spend much time on Facebook?” one asks the other, even though the Russian spend on that platform was microscopic at best.
The first installment also introduces us to the Comey couple, their moments accompanied by tinkly, treacly music. Mrs. Comey (Jennifer Ehle) is on Team Clinton or Bust, and she’s aghast that her husband could hurt Clinton’s presidential hopes.
The Comey kids are equally appalled at Daddy’s work. He feels their pain, but he must do his job, his set jaw all but screams.
Not all heroes wear capes.
We already know Team Comey didn’t indict Clinton regarding the email imbroglio, so there’s little dramatic tension to be found during the first part of the miniseries. So we’re left watching Comey and his team meticulously craft their public statement on the matter, about as interesting as watching CSPAN with the sound turned off.
All along, the miniseries message is clear. Comey is Above Reproach and every FBI agent, even if they have personal views, is Apolitical to the Core.
And, of course, that Comey abhors leaks … unless he’s the one doing the leaking.
It’s more about setting the stage for part 2 and Brendan Gleeson’s entrance as the country’s 45th president. That means framing the Steele Dossier, as discredited as any document in recent memory, as coming from a “highly credible source.”
Well, that statement got incinerated this week. Again.
In “The Comey Rule,” the dossier offered a “plausible working theory,” the miniseries alleges. The Mueller Report shredded much of it last year, well before “The Comey Rule” went into production.
Ray marches on, oblivious to those facts. He also finds screen time to protect Strzok and Page, notorious for referring to an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency. The miniseries downplays that statement, making it sound innocent.
“We’ll stop him,” he tells Page.
“‘We’ as in the bureau?” she asks him.
“‘We’ as in the public,’” he answers.
Part 2 features Gleeson’s Trump, and it’s exactly the performance you expect, well detailed but conventional. Ray gives us the version of Trump we see on the news, minus the humor and street smarts. In short, it’s a caricature.
Then again, so are the other members of Trump’s team. The FBI agents and various government types are depicted in “The Comey Rule” as smart, considerate, and well mannered.
Not Gen. Michael Flynn (Williams Sadler). He’s a buffoon, at one point shown eating food with his hands. That’s a classic trope to demean a character. Later, Trump wolfs down ice cream like it’s his last meal. Again, no accident.
Everyone on Team Trump looks like they’re starring in another movie, a dark comedy perhaps, instead of a serious dramatization.
President Trump’s election day victory, the FBI warns, means an uptick in hate crimes. AKA a hoax. So why include it?
We’re told President-Elect Trump is unwilling to criticize Putin, as if “coercive pressure is being applied.” James Clapper (“Breaking Bad” alum Jonathan Banks) goes one step further, saying Russia elected Trump and they’re happy to do it again in 2020.
“They have no real incentive to stop,” he notes.
The miniseries also says the Russians hacked both the DNC and RNC but only released info from the former. Yet that’s not true, even the liberal Politifact declared. Then again, the lies of omission found in “The Comey Rule” comprise a far greater stack, one visible from space.
See Report, Mueller, for starters.
By now Gleeson’s Trump is like Michael Meyers and Hannibal Lecter combined, so we get ominous music accompanying him. Even more fear-driven? When Comey walks toward Trump we get the dreaded “slo-mo” camera work, as if he’s walking up to a lion, or other feral predator.
This is beneath Ray, who last year penned the brilliant “Richard Jewell.” That movie excoriated Fake News and dishonest media narratives.
His “Comey Rule” marinates in both.
Is President Trump a bull in a Beltway China shop? Of course. Is his manner often rude and unpresidential? Absolutely. Did The Mueller Report reveal behavior beneath the dignity of the office? At times, yes.
It still didn’t give Democrats a shred of material with which they could impeach President Trump. That seems important.
“The Comey Rule” emits that suffocating air of Re-Enactment Theatre, where new characters have their names flashed on the screen and there’s little time for creative interpretation or, dare we say, art.
It’s all exposition, stripping Ray of his better tools. He escapes the trap a time or two, adding personal elements when he can squeeze them in. Perhaps a better format for this would be a longer miniseries where the “factual” data points could give way to richer character development and unrelated sub-plots.
As is, “The Comey Rule” features cutesy call backs and so much chest puffing it’s like a WWE match on steroids.
Even the far-left Rolling Stone shattered the Russian collusion story in Dec. 2019, weeks after production started on “The Comey Rule.” That meant Team Showtime had months, and months, to update its narrative and chose not to do so.
Of course, the miniseries wraps with both somber images of the nation’s capital and Ray Charles’ version of “America the Beautiful.”
Only in America can an absurd, factually deficient project like “The Comey Rule” make it to an august channel without fear of government reprisal.
What a country.
What a crock “The Comey Rule” is.
A version of this article appears on HollywoodInToto.com