Film Review: THE EAST

Directed by Zal Batmanglij
Written by Batmanglij and Brit Marling
Starring: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson, Julia Ormond

Brit Marling plays Sarah, a former C.I.A operative who now works for an elite group that infiltrates terrorist groups launching attacks on its clients. It takes us a minute or two to understand, Sarah is not with a government agency, but with another corporation with its own issues to sift through. This makes for a more morally complex film.

These clients are corporations that have something to fear from groups that value a clean planet, human life, safe water, etc. So we have no sympathy for those under attack, although as with most groups like this, they are often willing to go too far to make their point. There are personal axes to grind. Again, this willingness to do great harm also makes for complexity.

The group she’s assigned to is led by Benjo (Alexander Skarsgard) and almost immediately an attack is launched against one such corporation. Her entry into the group seems a bit too easily done, but it doesn’t sabotage the story.

This sort of story has been done before. The infiltrator begins to feel some affinity with the new cohorts.. The rest of the film details her time in the group and its plans for future attacks. It is somewhat suspenseful but because it has a philosophical bent to it, the suspense is more minimal than one might wish.

In general, this is a strong summer film. I had trouble understanding just why Sarah doesn’t see through her employer more quickly. It is apparent to the viewer almost at once. Does she crave this sort of assignment at the expense of other objectives? But it is well filmed and boy, it’s nice to see a movie that has a point to make.

Patti Abbott