Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jun 19, 2013
    91
    The East is a crackling thriller and a political statement tough to peg.
  2. Reviewed by: Leah Greenblatt
    May 22, 2013
    83
    The East is still a compelling portrait of what gets lost (and found) when a cause becomes an obsession.
  3. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    Jun 29, 2013
    80
    The film keeps its good-evil borders compellingly supple, at least until a wobbly finale that requires Sarah to act like the Hollywood heroine she has so strenuously avoided becoming. It’s a minor blot on a film otherwise propulsively alive with prickly politics.
  4. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Jun 15, 2013
    80
    Another Brit hit, plus Batmanglij is beginning to show dash as director. The duo make a tight fist of hot topicality and high tension from an ideas-packed genre piece.
  5. 80
    The magnetic Alexander Skarsgard is the leader, Benji, a soft-spoken dreamboat, ever-direct but with a haunted quality, with something in reserve. Ellen Page gives a Lili Taylor–worthy performance (high praise) as a suspicious, abrasive young woman.
  6. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    May 30, 2013
    80
    It’s more that the filmmakers close out this oddly inspiring yarn of apocalypse and paranoia with a note of false reassurance. Yes, the world is fundamentally screwed and most people are apathetic or paralyzed. So start ringing doorbells!
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    May 30, 2013
    80
    As the cracklingly cool The East shows, they’re the real deal. It’s not easy to make a thriller where brains and guts are so clearly in cahoots.
  8. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    May 28, 2013
    80
    Eventually it’s go time, and if The East loses a little steam on the grounds of action mechanics (a skill these plots always require), it’s never dumb on the subject of covert allegiances.
  9. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Apr 29, 2013
    80
    This is a movie that proposes a genuine, intelligent solution, both for the main character and for us. It comes at you kinda quickly (and economically, in about three wordless shots), but it hit me like a bag of dumpster-dived apples to the gut.
  10. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Apr 26, 2013
    80
    Batmanglij balances emotional tension with practical danger nicely, a must in a story whose activist protagonists can make no distinction between the personal and the political.
  11. Reviewed by: Bill Zwecker
    Jun 6, 2013
    75
    Marling has crafted a nicely taut, suspenseful cinematic journey into the world of corporate espionage.
  12. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Jun 6, 2013
    75
    As usual, Marling is a pleasure to watch for the psychological complexity and contradictions of her character. This time, the story almost lives up to the performance.
  13. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jun 6, 2013
    75
    This is an effective genre piece. And Marling's quiet way of anchoring a scene is subtle enough to escape detection in almost any narrative circumstance.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    May 30, 2013
    75
    Provocative, issue-oriented thrillers are in sadly short supply these days. But The East fills the bill with its examination of the intense commitment and anarchic impulses of eco-terrorist organizations. It's a fascinating subject on which to anchor a spy thriller.
  15. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    May 30, 2013
    75
    You leave The East with a hunger to know more and a good idea of where to look. For Marling and Batmanglij that counts as mission accomplished. For audiences, it’s that rare thing these days – a movie that matters.
  16. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    May 29, 2013
    75
    It’s best, perhaps, to just accept the movie on its dramatic terms, as a reasonably gripping thriller about the dangers of deep cover, anchored by a terrific actress on the brink of stardom.
  17. 75
    It’s too much a movie of “types,” and loses track of story elements that would seem important enough to warrant further exploration. The whole Christian conservative law-and-order mantle feels like a fuzzy afterthought on Jane, forgotten far too soon.
  18. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    May 28, 2013
    75
    It showcases the evolving interests and talents of Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, but expands them and channels them into a more traditional thriller framework.
  19. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Apr 26, 2013
    75
    As slickly paced as a big-studio espionage movie, it nearly succeeds as a pure adrenaline-rush thriller. In the end, the problem isn't that there's too much plot, but rather a certain dramatic illogic.
  20. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jun 13, 2013
    70
    It is a smart, well-acted drama, and another chance for Marling to exercise her unique talents, creating intriguing characters on the page and the screen.
  21. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    May 31, 2013
    70
    The East makes for a passable thriller, as 1 percenters get theirs in satisfying, if incrementally implausible ways.
  22. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    May 30, 2013
    70
    For the most part, The East is a dizzying cat and mouse game with all sorts of moral implications.
  23. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    May 30, 2013
    70
    It may be asking too much of The East — which is, after all, a twisty, breathless genre film — to wish that it would frame the contradictions of contemporary capitalism more rigorously. The movie is aware that they exist, and wishes that they could be resolved more or less happily, which is hard to argue with, though also hard to believe.
  24. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Apr 26, 2013
    70
    This clever, involving spy drama builds to a terrific level of intrigue before losing some steam in its second half.
  25. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jun 13, 2013
    67
    The East never goes as deep undercover as it should.
  26. Reviewed by: Cory Everett
    Apr 26, 2013
    67
    The East is definitely a movie that's going to divide people but it'll be a conversation worth having.
  27. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Jul 3, 2013
    60
    Come the final act, the best political thrillers don't play nice, after all – they twist the knife. This one’s so concerned with making the world a better place, it retracts the blade and wipes it clean
  28. Reviewed by: Henry Barnes
    Jun 29, 2013
    60
    The East – a sleek thriller clogged by its noble message – heads south. It becomes sanctimonious, makes you contrary. I left craving a Big Mac.
  29. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Jun 24, 2013
    60
    Well-acted and suspenseful, with a great deal of editorial content, this feels a little awkward and earnest, and perhaps not angry enough.
  30. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jun 14, 2013
    60
    Even if it doesn't provide all the answers, "The East" asks some pretty darn good questions.
  31. Reviewed by: Amy Nicholson
    May 28, 2013
    60
    For all its empathy and equilibrium, The East has nowhere to go after the script backs itself into a corner.
  32. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Jun 12, 2013
    50
    The film looks good (nod to cinematographer Roman Vasyanov). The images are sharp even when the film’s ideas are not.
  33. Reviewed by: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Jun 11, 2013
    50
    The East prizes an initial air of mystery over consistent drama, and as a result ends up squandering its intriguing premise.
  34. 50
    Unfortunately, The East is not a very good movie, hobbled by an excess of plot, a lack of believability and big gaps of logic.
  35. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    May 28, 2013
    50
    A good cast and the speed-dial theme of eco-terrorism should really add up to a film of more substantial mind over matter than the dull, talky and ultimately pointless espionage thriller The East.
  36. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    May 30, 2013
    38
    Let’s say you wanted to have another go at “Red Dawn” but you think more like Redford. Voilà: You’d have The East, a cockamamie valentine to eco-terrorism.
User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 92 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 21
  2. Negative: 5 out of 21
  1. Jul 17, 2013
    5
    The trailer presented this film as thriller focused on eco-terrorism. Unfortunately it delves into a drama leaving anything engaging about a thriller in the foyer. Leaving the cinema I felt disappointed and glad to have a cineworld membership in the UK. Paying for this would have been upsetting given the cost of tickets today.

    How often do we want the bad guys to succeed? Not often in my book but when up corporations they choice was easy. However a dull storyline, convoluted script and predictable outcomes hindering this film from being a memorable thriller. It's a shame because it had a very interesting and real concept, with a strong 20 to 30 mins opening phase.

    After that I lost interest. The story unfolds slowly here onwards and focuses on the drama between characters, which can be a good thing if executed well. Unfortunately because none of the characters are worth caring about it becomes uninteresting and unengaging.

    I did enjoy the eco-terrorism acts and wanted more of it. Use of the internet to spread their message was also quite realistic, along with the mystery behind organising them to ensure secrecy.

    See this on DVD instead.
    Full Review »
  2. Jun 25, 2013
    10
    What I like best about movies that highlight corporate greed and revenge for the little guy is that the ultimate message is, people matter. The health of their environment matters. Their health matters. Their children matter. And it's not okay for them to be treated as collateral damage by corporate money-mongers.

    Such is true in real life.

    On a personal level, what I most appreciated about The East was that it accurately depicted the horrors of a real class of prescription antibiotics, fluoroquinolones. (Per Brit Marling in a Huffington Post interview, they modeled the horrors of the pharmaceutical industry in the film after the real horrors of fluoroquinolone toxicity.) The fictionalized Diaoxin (or something like that) that causes central nervous system damage, tendon rupture, seizures, rash, tremors, etc. is based on real reactions to real drugs, antibiotics that go by the names Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox and Larium. As The East depicted, the effects of these drugs can be devastating. The East also illustrated that onset of adverse symptoms can be delayed, leading to people not identifying the drugs as the culprit in their ill health, the fact that a lawsuit is impossible, or at least difficult, because the side-effects are listed on the package insert, that these drugs are being given to our armed forces in massive quantities, that these drugs are toted as a miracle cure for anthrax, that these drugs are commonly used in Africa (and other places in the world where malaria is common) to treat traveler’s diarrhea and malaria, etc. Really, they did an awesome job at portraying as complete a picture as possible of fluoroquinolones and their toxicity. I know, it sounds unbelievable, as if I'm basing my assessment of reality on the movie. In reality, the movie was based on true stories of fluoroquinolone toxicity. Please look at The Fluoroquinolone Wall of Pain on Facebook for stories of illness and my blog, www.floxiehope.com, for stories of hope and healing.
    Full Review »
  3. Jun 16, 2013
    8
    A solid thriller! This is especially interesting for folks who are interested in environmental or political issues that tend to fall out of the public's radar in our global conversation; it features hints of anarchism, freeganism, and anti-capitalism. An ex-FBI agent, now working with a shady private security firm that prevents corporate espionage, attempts to infiltrate an eco-terrorist organization. Pretty standard plot, but well executed.

    The film isn't perfect. There are a few continuity errors, such as people appearing out of thin air where in the previous scene, there was no mention of their existence. Some scenes feel very rushed, while other scenes can come off as somewhat improbable, almost implausible. It was as if the writers knew what they wanted to do, but panicked whenever they had to wrap scenes up, and simply bundled those scenes into paper balls, finishing them hastily and throwing all the loose ends and knots together into a clump. This forces the viewer to unravel the confused logic of the filmmakers in certain parts, which can be a little frustrating. There is also a gratuitous love scene, so be aware.

    This being said, the acting is fantastic. Alexander Skarsgård rocks his role, and Ellen Page has a complex character who would only shine like a star if she was given even more camera time and plot development than she already was given.

    The East may not be the best film of the year, but it's definitely worth the movie ticket. Intriguing plot, some excruciatingly hard-to-watch scenes (the good kind), with only minor, forgivable errors. If the filmmakers went the extra mile, and extended the run-time of the film, most of the mistakes would have been smoothed over into a sleek piece of cinematographic art. Instead, you have a solid, unique thriller that touches on topics no other film attempts to tackle, with extremely talented actors and actresses who rock their screentime.
    Full Review »