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Netflix’s most addictive movie of 2024 is now streaming. Here’s why you need to watch it

A woman holds a coffee in Scoop.
Netflix

Thrillers come in all shapes and sizes. There’s the psychological or serial killer thriller, which was popularized in the ’90s by The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. There’s the erotic thriller, which had its heyday in the late ’80s and early ’90s with such hits as Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct. And then there’s the action thriller, which is probably the most popular offshoot of the genre right now, with the Taken series and Salt as prime examples.

Recently, there’s been a revival of a subgenre that’s been dormant since the 1970s: the journalism thriller. From Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal to the Oscar-winning Spotlight to 2022’s She Said, this type of thriller usually centers around journalists pursuing a controversial and sometimes dangerous story. One of the best journalism thrillers has just been released by Netflix: Scoop. In chronicling how the BBC managed to snag the scoop of the decade by interviewing Prince Andrew about his connections to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the movie manages to be suspenseful, informative, and one of 2024’s most purely entertaining films.

The story everyone is after

Prince Andrew is interviewed in Scoop.
Netflix

If your memory is foggy, or if you don’t follow royal scandals or the news on a regular basis, here’s the real-life event that Scoop depicts. In late 2019, Prince Andrew was interviewed by British journalist Emily Maitlis about his decades-long relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, a rich American financier who had been convicted of being a sex offender and, that August, had died under mysterious circumstances while in prison.

The interview was aired on the BBC program Newsnight on November 19 and immediately received worldwide attention for Andrew’s odd explanations for his behavior and unwillingness to show any sympathy toward Epstein’s victims. For example, in response to an allegation that he sweated on an underage girl at a dance club, he asserted that he doesn’t sweat, ever, so that couldn’t possibly be true.

Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview - BBC News

The consequences of the interview were devastating for Prince Andrew. After it aired, he was stripped of his royal titles and receded from public view. The royal establishment took yet another public beating, with some wondering why taxpayer money was funding a member who seemingly partook in illegal activities with Epstein and yet didn’t experience any legal ramifications. Almost everyone, both in the U.K. and across the world, asked the same question: why on Earth would someone as private and protected as Prince Andrew agree to such an interview in the first place?

A tense standoff

A woman leans over two men in Scoop.
Netflix

Scoop is a two-hour-long answer to that question. It starts in 2010 in New York City, when an enterprising paparazzo photographs Andrew and Epstein together walking in Central Park, establishing a clear and public link between the two men. That picture is remembered by Sam McAlister (Billie Piper), a talent booker for the BBC, who smells a story developing with Epstein’s ongoing trial, subsequent conviction, and eventual death, which puts pressure on Andrew to address his controversial association with the sex offender.

Scoop presents two sides of the story: the BBC journalists, represented by McAlister, Maitlis (Gillian Anderson), and editor Esme Wren (Romola Garai); and the Royal Family, who, aside from Andrew (Rufus Sewell), is almost entirely run by Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes), who is torn between duty and a gradual realization her boss is a sleazebag.

As we see the two sides circle each other warily, the movie’s director, Philip Martin, never lets up on the tension felt both within the opposing ranks as well as when they intermittently meet to decide on if, when, and how the interview will take place. It’s genuinely thrilling to see McAlister chase her story and for the other journalists to pick up the baton after her part is largely finished. As the interview is set up, Maitlis wryly observes that it feels like she’s going to a gunfight in an old Western movie. And that’s what the interview comes down to: two people facing each other, one armed with facts and the other with a ludicrous defense and a complete lack of awareness that he’s done anything wrong.

A killer cast

People talk around a table in Scoop.
Netflix

This kind of thriller doesn’t work if you don’t have a great cast, which is why Scoop is so effective. Anderson continues to add to her already impressive resume as Maitlis, who has to navigate the fine line between respecting the institution she’s investigating and getting answers to questions everyone in the nation has been asking for years. When Andrew casually wonders why everyone is so interested in his relationship with Epstein when he’s far better friends with Jimmy Savile (a DJ who was also a sex offender), Anderson gives an incredulous look to her producer that’s at once very funny and incredibly revealing. She can’t believe this guy is so delusional about the serious situation he’s in, and she uses that knowledge in her interview to let Andrew symbolically hang himself with his own rope.

It’s Piper, though, who impresses the most as McAlister. Armed with leopard print boots, bottle blonde curls, and a don’t-mess-with-me attitude, she sticks out among her conservative BBC peers, but it’s precisely her outsider status and her willingness to chase after a story when no one else dares to pursue it that makes her such a great character to follow. She’s the only one that Scoop allows us to see at home, where she confides to her mother about wanting to be seen as important and tries to guide her teenage son through the first pangs of romance.

A woman glances up from her phone in Scoop.
Netflix

Piper is probably best known in the U.S. for her work as the companion Rose Tyler on Doctor Who, but she’s quietly put together an impressive CV with standout performances in The Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Collateral, and I Hate Suzie. In Scoop, she leads an ensemble with an authority and brassiness that only a star could deliver. Scoop is revelatory in many ways, but perhaps its biggest shock to most audiences is just how good Piper is and how good she’s always been.

More than just an effective thriller

A man aims his camera in Scoop.
Netflix

Like all good thrillers, Scoop is more than its subject matter. While it faithfully and expertly re-enacts the lead-up to, and quick production of, the interview with Prince Andrew, it also poses intriguing arguments about the state of journalism and the culpability of public figures to own up to their past sins. Everyone knows and respects the BBC, but that doesn’t make it profitable or competitive with other news outlets and social media, and it’s this conundrum — the need for relevance while still preserving a brand of integrity — that drives many of Scoop‘s characters.

In addition, Scoop is in many ways a sister to Steven Spielberg‘s The Post and She Said, to other movies about the need for journalism to hold public figures like Richard Nixon, Harvey Weinstein, and yes, the Royal Family, accountable for their actions. It’s not wrong to categorize Scoop as a thriller — its slick direction and propulsive score by Anne Nikitin and Hannah Peel more than supports that justification — but it’s also a great movie about the value and necessity of a free press in the 21st century. Who knew a dramatic retelling of a five-year-old interview could be so thrilling to watch and so rich to think about?

Watch Scoop on Netflix now.

Editors' Recommendations

Jason Struss
Section Editor, Entertainment
Jason is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast whose love for cinema, television, and cheap comic books has led him to…
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