- Starring: Aldis Hodge, Alexander Skarsgård, Brit Marling, Danielle Macdonald, Ellen Page, Hillary Baack, Jason Ritter, Julia Ormond, Patricia Clarkson, Shiloh Fernandez, Toby Kebbell
- Summary: An elite private intelligence firm contracts ex-FBI agent Sarah Moss to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist collective, The East, suspected to be responsible for attacking major corporations. Sarah goes undercover, but as she gets closer to the action and the organization's leader, her commitment to her task begins to waver.… Expand
- Director: Zal Batmanglij
- Genre(s): Action, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
- More Details and Credits »
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Jun 25, 2013What 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
Sep 22, 2013This 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.… Expand
Jun 16, 2013A 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.… Collapse
Sep 3, 2013I 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
Jun 8, 2013This 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"...… Expand
Sep 5, 2013This 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.… Expand