The Independent: A Political Journalism Thriller

Jodie Turner-Smith and Brian Cox in The Independent. Courtesy of Peacock.

The Independent, a new political journalism thriller, arrives on Peacock days before Americans go to the polls for the midterm election.

The real October surprise? Peacock’s announcement of this thriller! There are so many options this week and that’s not an understatement. If you have election anxiety right now, the film probably is not the best option. Otherwise, I do recommend watching. Hey, it’s got Jodie Turner-Smith and Brian Cox in leading roles. You cannot go wrong with either actor. Cox has been on a roll of late between Succession and a recent turn as a dying prisoner in Prisoner’s Daughter. Had I known that this film was coming out, I would have said something in September! But I digress.

I love a good political thriller. What I enjoy about this film is that it mixes both politics and journalism. Eli James (Jodie Turner-Smith) is a rookie journalist working for The Washington Chronicle, a stand-in for the Washington Post. One thing leads to another and she soon finds herself working with iconic journalist Nick Booker (Brian Cox) in investigating a conspiracy. Not just any conspiracy but one that could have a huge impact on the upcoming presidential election. On the election side of things, it’s a huge presidential election. President Archer (Victor Slezak), the Democratic incumbent, is facing off against Republican candidate Patricia Turnbull (Ann Dowd) and independent candidate Nate Sterling (John Cena). More often than not, independents don’t have much of a chance in a presidential election but Sterling has enough support to take votes away from Turnbull.

John Cena in The Independent
John Cena in The Independent. Courtesy of Peacock.

Prior to Sterling entering the race, there’s this Trump-esque feeling to watching him travel across the country for a book tour. I mean, the rally crowds only continue to draw the comparison. It’s a case of art imitating life but it’s also a reminder of what’s happening in our country. No presidential candidate ought to have a cult-like campaign. I’m not saying that Sterling is Trump, of course. The fact of the matter is that it is rare for independent candidates to siphon this much support. Also, the film makes mention of the pandemic as a recent event but you wouldn’t know it unless there wasn’t a reference.

As far as the credits go, I love that they go with the Quincy Jones-arranged version of “America the Beautiful” as sung by Ray Charles. Honestly, it’s probably not the first song I would go to for the end credits but it absolutely works.

Days before the election, The Independent is a reminder of why we need a free and independent press. It’s something I’m thinking about right now as Elon Musk is driving good people away from Twitter as he burns the social media platform into the ground. We need a free press to fight back against the terrible misinformation that spreads. Films like this one are a necessary reminder.

CAST: Jodie Turner-Smith, Brian Cox, Luke Kirby, with Ann Dowd and John Cena

Peacock will launch The Independent on November 2, 2022. Grade: 3.5/5

Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.