Government: scarier than the horror movies.
Alex Gibney’s political documentary Zero Days paints a new modern cold war. A global chess game of comparable egos that have two means of reaching checkmate annihilation: Nuclear Weapons and Cyber Weapons. Both of which are ready to be fired without so much as a congressional vote or word of warning. The only thing holding us back being mutually assured destruction.
It’s a power dynamic you could imagine in Dr. Strangelove, where oligarchs can screw the whole world order and existence before dinner with their capabilities truly left unchecked. Gibney’s film starts with a simple malware called Stuxnet, a virus known for turning off computers around the world; the malware discovered by cyber security analyst, Sergey Ulasen, who unknowingly set up the Pandora’s box of political maneuvers that lead to the Iranian Nuclear Deal; the highlight of the Obama administration that didn’t come easy or safely.
Gibney trudges through the complex chain of command like a spy thriller, detailing the secret cyber attack of the century, Olympic Games, which to this day is heavily redacted by government officials, its existence bleached if not for a few anonymous NSA whistleblowers. He continues to show the extent to which a heated global government can reach, and the moral question of transparency. These government actions themselves being morally confusing and made under tyrannical-like authority, whether the country in question be an Ahmadinejad-lead Iran, a Netanyahu-lead Israel, or the American years under Bush and Obama – all of which are holding their cards to the chest and stuck in political quagmire.
Zero Days questions the role of intervention, be it organised or not, and the farce that is foreign policy. Gibney never leans left or right on the political spectrum, but his focus is on recounting this farce to accuracy. He offers a conversation on all sides as to the morality of our leaders, presented slickly with a Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight meets House of Cards visual style. The tone is quite self-serious and professional, giving it a mystery approach where you peel back the layers and find yourself asking “we can do that already?!”… The concern in your voice when you say it will be justified.
Zero Days is a political documentary that will work for an audience ready to learn and stay engaged throughout. I would recommend knowing where you stand politically and on the issues, especially on foreign policy and cyber warfare, as that will truly boost your enjoyment factor. Y2K people! It’s not far off! Ahh!!
Zero Days was selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.