If there was ever a film that had it’s heart in the right place, it would be The East
This movie is about as morally complicated as it gets. I love any project that makes an audience question whether “two wrongs make a right” and The East succeeds at doing that. It’s only a few minor cliches and a rushed final act from being a great film.
The story revolves around a former FBI agent (Brit Marling: she also co-wrote the script) who now works for a private intelligence firm. This firm’s clients are companies who make a fortune, even if it isn’t always the honest way. The agent lives a double life: a normal existence with her live-in boyfriend (Jason Ritter), the other as an undercover agent who infiltrates criminal organizations.
Her assignment to blend in with a crowd of eco-terrorists known as “The East”, turns problematic as she finds her priorities changing dramatically. At the start of the movie we see her as a religious conservative type, who then starts to sway in her beliefs, thanks to the group’s charismatic leaders (Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page). The group that makes up “The East” needed to be fleshed out a bit more. They come across as a mixture of Tyler Durden’s Fight Club and a peaceful version of the “Manson family”.
Of course, the film portrays the corporations as evil capitalists. While some might find this style of filmmaking to be liberal propaganda and heavy-handed with it’s message, it’s hard to argue against why these CEOs need to be punished. Throughout the film we see them pollute the oceans and produce harmful “legal” drugs. The question the film lays out is… does “The East” go too far with their punishment?
The East is a nice cinematic throwback. It reminded me of an era of intelligent, political thrillers that were prominent back in the 70s. It’s a slick piece of entertainment that we rarely get in the theaters nowadays.
I give THE EAST *** out of ****.