Dark Waters revolves around the findings of New York Times journalist Nathaniel Rich. Starring Mark Ruffallo: who film fans will have been more used to seeing as Bruce Banner and his comic book superhero alter-ego The Hulk in the Avengers series of films. In Dark Waters he plays a very true-to-life character in the form of corporate lawyer Rob Billet. When Billet is contacted by a farmer in his hometown in West Virginia about pollution on his land he finds himself at odds wh the law firm he works for, who are more accustomed to representing the big guy than the little one.
At the heart of the case is farmer Wilbur Tennant’s claim that his cows have turned psychotic and his land turned toxic, all caused, he claims by the nearby big corporation. The problem is that the particular corporation in question is DuPont who’s latest product is Teflon is used in everything from clothing to non-stick saucepans. At various stages throughout the narrative the viewer witnesses Billet at odds with various colleagues and struggles to convince even his boss, (played by Tim Robbins). Meanwhile, Tennant, ably and memorably played by Bill Camp, is getting sicker and Billet’s involvement in the case is putting a strain on his family life. At one stage we witness Billet surrounded by an Everest sized mountain of paperwork sent from DuPon’t legal team, perhaps to deliberately try and deter Billet from his mission.
The problem is that this really is as far as the plot goes. From here on in there seems an inevitability about the narrative. At two hours six minutes it is important to hold the audience’s attention and by this stage Dark Waters just doesn’t do it. Even if the writers had introduced a Nathaniel Rich type character and his part in the story it might have added an extra crucial dimension. As it is the film suffers from a sense of inevitability, which it takes a long time to get to. Even if it had used a speedy montage to get through this part it would have been better than the unimaginative and predictable end that the audience are left with.