User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 92 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 77 out of 92
  2. Negative: 9 out of 92

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  1. 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.
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  2. 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.
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  3. 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. Expand
  4. Dec 7, 2013
    3
    For about first 10 minutes seems promising, then becomes a polished amateur film-course project with the backing of, and participation of, some experienced professionals.
  5. Jun 25, 2013
    8
    Security specialist Brit Marling infiltrates an eco-terrorist group (headed by Alexander Skarsgard & Ellen Page) only to find herself seduced by their principles. Like many obvious plots, it's the telling that determines whether it's effective. And this one is. It develops with an unhurried, yet assured pace. Not nail-biting or dazzling, but solidly compelling and cinemagraphic.
  6. Sep 15, 2013
    0
    this movie was beyond bad. awful stereotyped characters, poor editing, weak story line. i have never seen such a disparity between scores and actually how terrible the movie was.
  7. Jun 8, 2013
    4
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This is yet another mediocre FBI story, this time about a bio-terrorist group. An FBI agent gets inside the group and all of a sudden understands that the Government is bad, FBI is corrupt, big corporations are greedy, cynical and inhumane.
    "The system is broken"... She gets sympathetic with the group and in the end starts working to advance their cause.
    Hollywood... What's new? But the agenda rings the bell with many movie critics. they praise the movie purely because their political views are similar.As one of the talk show hosts likes to say, "Pass me some Advil"...
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  8. Sep 11, 2013
    6
    Recently co-writer and lead actress Brit Marling starred in a similarly themed film, Sound of My Voice,a film also about a mysterious organization but these two films couldn't be more different with The East being a logical and compelling piece of cinema. When Jane (Brit Marling) is sent in undercover to assess a fundamentalist group called The East, a group led by Benji (Alexander Skarsgard) and Izzy (Ellen Page) she starts to understand their cause as the company she works for begins to twist the truth until she doesn't know who to trust. The only flaw with The East is it really isn't as clever as it thinks it is, it uses cliched twists to convey key plot points and lacks the subtlety and strength of its conviction to pull its twists off. The end is almost ruined by a twist so half arsed it really deserves mocking but by doing so I may ruin it for the few who might not catch it. The filming is splendid with every shot feeling grey as the film blurs the lines between black and white as Jane loses herself in a web of deceit, a web so complex that be the end I had forgotten her real name. Filled with some excellent performances, Marling proves her worth as an actor after disappointing turns in her own projects such as Another Earth and the previously mentioned Sound of My Voice. Skarsgard is the best of the bunch as he is completely fearless in his depiction of this utterly lost soul. The film begs the viewer to pick a side before the end but the finale makes that strive for agreement pointless as the film ends on its own terms. Most of the political ideas on display are half baked at best and it really shows with the conclusion feeling like a safe way to bring this story to a close, although I have to say I did get a little bit of satisfaction with the neat and tidy nature of the ending, something this story really doesn't deserve. While interesting and well performed it finds itself let down by a lack of thought going into what the writers really wanted to say. Expand
  9. Sep 22, 2013
    9
    This is a film about radical youth, anarchists who have decided to take the world back from their parents’ generation, since their parents have clearly made a mess of things. Brit Marling as Sarah Moss is an ex-FBI agent who now works for a private intelligence firm. The clients for this firm need protection from eco-terrorists, the idealists who take revenge on big corporate officers and CEOs who have perpetuated injustices against society, whether they have contaminated the water supply or released a pharmaceutical drug that has adverse side effects.

    Presumably, Marling and co-writer/director Zal Batmanglij are sympathetic to the movement, which exists in real life (although not usually associated with eco-terrorism) and is referred to as freeganism. They are radical environmentalists who want to end the consumerism and the money-driven economy as it stands now. An outgrowth of the 1960’s hippie movement, which derailed itself with too much emphasis on promiscuous sex and illegal drugs, the freegan manifesto does not seem to officially advocate drugs, communes, or sexual politics.

    Freeganists want to live their lives close to nature, with vegan diets and without having to trade their labor for money or trade money for goods. They do this by getting their food from dumpsters (“dumpster diving”) in spite of the danger of bacteria, parasites, and animal droppings. More sensibly, they are outraged by the amount of edible food that is thrown out by major supermarket chains due to the fruits and vegetables being too small or slightly damaged, or the meat and fish nearing the expiration date, a scandal that contributes to the world wastage of one-third of the food supply while people continue to starve to death. Freegans often live as squatters on abandoned properties, a criminal offense, which they say is ethical because it helps relieve the situation regarding the homeless. They resent the emphasis on working full time, often monotonous and soul-deadening, when they say that people who don’t really need to work should spend their time doing volunteer work, communing with family, or doing other more creative and intellectual activities.

    In this film, Sarah Moss goes undercover to live in a freegan collective, where she eventually becomes convinced of the value of their work. This entails a major conversion, from working for “The Man” to becoming a revolutionary. Unfortunately, in order to make this movie a suspense thriller, the freeganists in this film are also eco-terrorists, another radical environmental movement where militant individuals are willing to damage property if necessary to make their point, although the kidnapping depicted in this film is extreme eco-terrorism, perhaps even unheard of. In reality, the freeganists are not necessarily eco-terrorists, and they are not dangerous. They are depicted here as living in filth and squalor, without toilets and running water, although Brit Marling’s character is always perfectly groomed and clean-cut. To go undercover, she dyes her dark hair blonde quickly and cheaply in a hotel room, but ends up with a professional dye job complete with highlights. When she goes back to the office and assumes her real identity, her hair remains blonde for the rest of the film. Despite weeks of being undercover, she never shows a hint of roots. It seems that Brit Marling/Sarah Moss is a little too vain about her looks to become as grungy as she should have been in order to fit in. She is not the genuine article.

    In any event, in terms of pure ideology, the film is a step in the right direction for raising consciousness about food wastage, corporate responsibility for the environment, and the need for society to develop deeper values and a sense of civic duty that will override consumerism.

    Brit Marling turns in a strong performance as does Ellen Page and the entire cast.
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  10. Nov 17, 2013
    6
    Cautionary tale of the consequences of getting too close to a cause you're to undermine or subvert. In this case, the protagonist (Sarah) flips from "establishment" to counter-culture but is intent on pursuing their aims non-violently, contrary to the group's MO. Could also be seen as another tale of how one person can make a difference.
  11. Jun 21, 2013
    7
    “The East” among other things, asks if two wrongs make a right? Are you justified in filling a CEO’s house of an oil company, that was responsible for a massive oil spill, with crude oil? Is there anything ‘wrong’ with giving the owners of a pharmaceutica, a dose of their own medicine, in champagne, which has caused illness and death in patients? When does an ‘eye for an eye’ become immoral, unethical? Will you ever look at Alexander Skarsgard, if you are familiar with “True Blood”, as anyone but Eric the vampire?

    Brit Marling, who co-wrote the screenplay with the director, Zal Batmanglij, stars as Jane, an ex-FBI agent, who goes to work for Sharon, (Patricia Clarkson) owner of a security firm who goes after environmental protesters who do what the group who calls themselves “The East” does. She goes undercover as Sarah and infiltrates the group and, disregarding Sharon’s warning about ‘going soft’ finds herself agreeing with the protesters but not their methods. There is no doubt that corporations are the villains of the movie but what about those protesters and what they bring?

    The movie follows Sarah, who because of her job, is leading a double life and also, to a certain degree, what motivates Skarsgard (Benji), Toby Kebbell (Doc), Ellen Page (Izzy) and Shiloh Fernandez (Luca) to commit what they refer to as ‘jams’. There is a love story and a few missteps regarding motivations but “The East” definitely will hold your interest.

    The acting by all the cast is first rate, as are most of the production values, and the film will hold your interest with the questions it is asking though the script goes a little too ‘Hollywood’ now and then. It is certainly a relief from all the pre-summer loud, action films that have been released and will have you talking about it, and the premise, after it is over.

    It is rated PG-13 for violence, some close your eyes images, sexual content and nudity. Running time is 1 hour and 56 minutes.
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  12. Sep 5, 2013
    0
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I really like movies that take on the corporate structure and by the trailer, you'd thins one does. And you wouldn't be disappointed if you are shallow and half only half a brain cell.
    Jane's character is terrible, she lives with her effeminate boyfriend who seems more like a dog than a man. Then we move on to the rag-tag band of "revolutionaries" each with a grudge against the system. And for a while you sympathize with them until you notice the quirks. There are so many stereotypes in this movie it should be called "TV stereotypes the movie".
    The hacker is fat, the doctor is a nerd with glasses wow original the leader is the macho guy who would have guessed one of them seems to motivate her action not by corporate malice but because she seems to want revenge against her dad dafuq.
    And finally we hafve the super -secret agent Jane, who is so unlikeable it's not even funny anymore.
    She is bland and acts well as a 'serious' character, but as a hobo, not even close. Characters seem to forget what happened to them 10 minutes ago and generally react totally un-natural to their environment like they are bad actors on a stage.
    And finally the icing on the cake for this fiasco, the ending.

    Watch the ending speech, in the Mercedes between the two she is making the same apology as people who claim Manning and Snowden should have shut up and kept quiet because "it exposes the system".
    And then it hit me. This whole speech is PROPAGANDA.

    And of course while the credits roll she is seen heroically reasoning with cold hardened hired professionals who what else are they known for if their affectionate side that corporations are bad and ...stuff.
    Some might wonder is this "Jane" living in her own head? In reality most of these people know EXACTLY well what they defend and they just don't care as long as the pay check comes on the table.
    They are like mercenaries with no morality or substance.
    Just like this movie.
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  13. Jun 27, 2013
    9
    I have to say that this is a very good movie.... I find the acting superb the story line also very good and for this type of suspenseful drama it was beyond antiquate to keep my attention and interest for the entire movie. it provides a lot of fascinating looks at the way we live and how society reacts and acts about some difficult questions that need some answers in regards to our respect of our planet and the people who inhabit it. Expand
  14. Aug 5, 2013
    7
    Solid and taunt but lacks the essence of being an action movie, The East is a good film but doesn't provide that final touch. The film is well polished but also lacks imagination and creativity. Acting was average and the film overall is excellent eye candy.
  15. Sep 28, 2013
    6
    The East is a good film and comes close at points to a great one, but in the long run it just falls short. Brit Marling and Alexander Skarsgard both do a great job and the script is good just not as good as Marling's first effort Sound of my Voice. B
  16. Sep 3, 2013
    6
    I finally got a chance to catch up with 'The East' and I have a few quick thoughts. Sophomore filmmaker Zal Batmanglij, makes a solid case with this steering thriller, but I still feel he has some room for improvement; particularly in the way he progresses and paces a story. An undercover agent increasingly questions her allegiances as she becomes close to an Eco-Terrorist group and their magnetic leader. Traditional, yet compelling; this story starts well but feels a little rushed in its second half when the characters have been established and the plot thickens. That certainly made this a tense movie, but it didn't allow for much breathing room, which would have worked well for these complex characters and the talented performers behind them. In any case, I much appreciated the movie and the ecological subject at hand, and I will be revisiting it in the near future. Expand
  17. Jun 21, 2013
    10
    Compelling....................................................................................................................................................................
  18. Oct 14, 2013
    1
    Had a wonderful baseline for a good movie, and they wasted it on a relationship. If you're gonna make a movie for people who want to see dating, why even bother with trying to draw the rest of us in with an interesting plot that ultimately doesn't matter?
  19. Nov 5, 2013
    0
    Terrible, no discernable character arch. Stereotypes galore, bored un-enigmatic writing. Truly did not enjoy any of this movie. It could have been good. But it really felt pointless.
  20. Nov 28, 2013
    6
    It had a good storyline the plot was also fine but the actresses brit marling and ellen page was terrible through out the movie especially I dint expect such a let down from the inception fame "page".
    Over all, its a pretty descent movie with some message to society given in a thrilling story line
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: 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.