By Paul Dennis
From director Zal Batmanglij (Sound of My Voice, The Recordist) comes the spy-thriller The East.
Unlike most modern spy movies that hinge on huge explosions and worlds filled with sexy good guys and bad guys alike, The East prefers to woo its audience with thought -provoking twists and a well thought-out unforeseeable journey.
Brit Marling (Another Earth, Sound of My Voice), plays Sarah, the accomplished and confident agent whose job is to infiltrate an anarchist group that targets major corporations and has a well-documented distaste for ‘the man.’
Upon arrival Sarah knows exactly what she must do. But after spending time with the group of ne’er-do-wells, including the jaded but charming Izzy (Ellen Page, Juno), and the afflicted but well-meaning Doc (Toby Kebbell, Prince of Persia), the lines between what her mission is and what her morals tell her begin to gray. To complicate matters even more, Sarah begins to fall for the group’s leader and most impassioned member, Benji, Alexander Skarsgård, True Blood).
Without the grandiose explosions, The East relies heavily on its cast to make this movie and, while coming from relative obscurity, the crew does an excellent job of creating a thriller that doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that high-priced Hollywood films so often lean on.
Another perk of this stylistic choice, which focuses on the characters more than the action, is that you can’t see the way the entire movie will play out before it actually does. Twist after twist and event after event this film continues to keep the audience members’ interest without constant filler leading up to an anti-climactic ending.
If you want more “bang for your buck” go see something else this summer, because that is not what The East sets out to do. However, if you want a film that can keep you thinking with a cast that actually acts out the script, I highly recommend this film.
I give The East four out of five stars.