Movie Review: Official Secrets



Starring: Kiera Knightley, Matt Smith, & Ralph Fiennes

Directed By: Gavin Hood (Ender’s Game, X-Men Origins: Wolverine)

Rated: R

Runtime: 1 hour 52 minutes

Official Secrets tells the story of a British whistleblower who leaked information to the press about a US-British plot to rig a UN vote to sanction the war in Iraq after the events of September 11th.Kiera Knightley stars as Katharine, our whistleblower, who believes what she did was for the greater good and now must protect her name and her freedom.

There’s quite a bit of build in this movie.And several times throughout the course of the film, the wind is taken out of the movie’s sails by character decisions, while true to life, don’t make for a good movie.There’s just as much legal plotting in this movie as there is political intrigue.While important to the story, isn’t always exciting.

The movie is well acted and well made.I just don’t think there’s enough here to warrant a movie.If you wanted to take some liberties with the story and blow it out of proportion, that would have worked.But it feels like the writing team stuck as close to the true events as possible, even when it frustrates the viewer.

A deep cast features Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, as well as Academy Award nominee, Ralph Fiennes.They all do a very commendable job, but the movie belongs to Kiera Knightley.An uneven performance in my eyes, but when she’s on she’s really on.There’s a point where she’s had enough of the system and lashes out, that’s peak Kiera Knightley.

Official Secrets is a political thriller.Also a legal thriller.It tries very hard to straddle the political fence, oftentimes working.The movie tries its best not to take a stance on The Iraq War and how it started.It gives arguments on both sides.But I think ultimately it’s going to be dubbed a “liberal movie”.There’s a short debate about “weapons of mass destruction” and whether or not George W. Bush was looking for vengeance in targeting Iraq.It’s not the overwhelming theme of the movie, but it’s the jumping off point for our story.

I think political junkies will like this movie a bit more than I did.I found it to be a bit dry at times.It’s certainly no “Mission: Impossible” or James Bond.There are no explosions, but there is a riveting scene about the difference between the British and American spellings of certain words.In the first act, this feels like a movie along the lines of Spotlight or All the President’s Men, but that subplot fizzles out fairly quickly.

Not bad by any means, a very workmanlike effort from Gavin Hood, a man who has made much worse movies than this. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, not to put too fine a point on it.Certainly more for the Law & Order, NCIS crowd than a guy like me who would rather go see a comic book movie or grisly horror movie.

On a scale of “See It/Stream It/Skip It” – I vote Skip It – Although, the diehard politicos might find it interesting.It was just too slow, too boring, and too frustrating at times for this viewer.

If you liked The Firm, Michael Clayton, or A Civil Action you might like Official Secrets

2 out of 5 stars for Official Secrets.Playing at Film Streams downtown location and at Marcus Theaters Village Pointe location.


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