The East (15)
Directed by: Zal Batmanglij
Starring: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page
Running time: 116 min
An operative for an elite private intelligence firm finds her priorities changing dramatically after she is tasked with infiltrating an anarchist group known for executing covert attacks upon major corporations.
Sarah (Brit Marling), an ex-FBI agent who now works for the private sector, is given the task of infiltrating the hardcore and high profile anarchist group The East. It is a task that will test her limits of strength and devotion, not only to her duty but to those she loves and holds dear. But when the line of what is good and what is right become increasingly blurred, can Sarah make the right choice and ultimately save as many innocent lives as possible?
The East is a film that, whilst may seem very similar to other undercover films, has the added difference that it is tackling a subject that is seldom seen in mainstream cinema; that of the eco-terrorist.
The are several recognisable characters of sorts; we have the fresh-faced Sarah who wants to impress her superiors and takes an assignment that clearly proves more than she was willing to be exposed to. You also have the charismatic leader of The East, Benji (Alexander Skarsgård) who is clearly an intelligent individual.
The ‘cell’ itself is made up of misfits and society’s rejects who want nothing more than to seek their revenge on those who have harmed the environment or the innocent public by staging a series of pranks. Matched against The East is a private security firm whose profit driven goals are wishing to put an end to a game of cat and mouse, a game that has the potential for the direst of consequences.
The East, Directed by Zal Batmanglij, clearly wants the viewer to question their own personal beliefs as much as the main character does. Whilst it may seem a very edgy and topical theme, sadly it is the characterisations and plot holes that leave the audience feeling a little flat.
Throughout the film’s running time, there are several key plot points that are foretold much too early and other elements which would deserve more storytelling as they simply don’t add up. Despite the hard hitting visions on the screen, the audience may feel little sympathy for any of the characters due to their lack of depth and antics so to speak.
Few will argue that the Earth doesn’t suffer from pollution, but to seek revenge in some of the manners depicted in this film will not have audience members rushing to donate to Earth First, more likely an exit with puzzled expressions.
The East is neither an edge-of-the-seat thriller or an eco manual. Instead it is more of an average thriller with familiar characters set against a number of scenes and suggestions that, with a more fleshed out script, could and should have been better.