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Bob Mahoney, Sony Pictures Classics
Liam Neeson as Mark Felt in “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House."

"MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE" — 2½ stars — Liam Neeson, Marton Csokas, Diane Lane, Maika Monroe, Julian Morris, Bruce Greenwood; PG-13 (language, brief nudity); Broadway

Peter Landesman’s “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” feels a little like a companion piece to 1976’s “All the President’s Men.”

Where Alan J. Pakula’s film, which starred Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, focuses on Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s famous Watergate investigation for the Washington Post, Landesman’s “Mark Felt” flips the perspective to the reporters' inside source — the mysterious figure known as Deep Throat.

Unfortunately, in this case the comparison to one of the most successful based-on-a-true-story political thrillers around is more hurtful than helpful.

We meet Felt (played by Liam Neeson) in April of 1972, already a 30-year veteran of the FBI, as the Nixon White House is trying to find a way to get rid of longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. When Felt is asked for inside dirt on his boss from a group of Nixon aids — including John Dean (Michael C. Hall) — this is merely the first example we see of the conspiracy to come.

After Hoover dies sometime later, Felt is passed over for the position, and he notes that the interim director, L. Patrick Gray (Marton Csokas), feels like a White House plant. We’re still a few months away from the ’72 presidential election at this point, and news of a break-in at Democratic Party headquarters triggers the rumblings of more political intrigue.

Felt becomes increasingly concerned about the integrity of the agency where he’s dedicated his career, but at the same time, he’s watching the White House overextend its influence, and he’s also struggling with issues at home. His daughter Joan (Maika Monroe) has been missing for some time, and he and his wife Audrey (Diane Lane) are worried that her political sympathies may have gotten her involved with extremist groups like the Weather Underground.

In the middle of all of this, Felt breaks decades of personal tradition and begins leaking information to journalists such as Woodward (Julian Morris) and Felt’s longtime friend Sandy Smith (Bruce Greenwood), who works for Time magazine. The public leaks just serve to make the situation at work all the more intense, as the White House tries to box in the investigation and smoke out the whistleblower.

As far as political thrillers go, “Mark Felt” features an appealing cast, anchored by Neeson but also featuring Lane, Greenwood and in a supporting role, Tom Sizemore as Felt’s former FBI colleague and current seedy White House underling Bill Sullivan. But the tension and suspense just never quite gel, in spite of an insistent score from Daniel Pemberton that frequently feels like too much of a good thing.

Viewers with a loose familiarity for history will know exactly where this film is going, but even so, “Mark Felt” still struggles to create enough of a genuine sense of suspense to keep the audience on edge. The persistent use of TV clips and news sound bites also leaves you with the sense that you are only seeing a small, incomplete portion of the larger story.

Altogether, “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” feels like a better candidate for the small screen rather than a full price ticket at the local theater. And even then, audiences interested in the Watergate scandal would be better served to look up Pakula’s ’76 film.

"Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House" is rated PG-13 for language and brief nudity; running time: 103 minutes.