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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Zero Days 2016 * * 1/2 Stars

Zero DaysDirector: Alex Gibney
Year: 2016
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: David Sanger, Emad Kiyaei

Zero Days is my latest review. It begins with a car exploding and a creepy, modulated voice speaking (hello "lawnmower man"). That's the vein of its excitement. At nearly two hours, this is a overly talky documentary, bent on chronicling the Stuxnet computer virus and how it posed a threat to Internet access all over the world. Stuxnet was a malicious worm. It involved the nuclear proclamations of the U.S. and Iran. Sadly, an insurance seminar is "Zero's" equivalent. A college disquisition is its symposium. This is painstakingly educational stuff.

Director Alex Gibney takes his account all the way from 1979's Iranian flag burning to said Stuxnet Trojan Horse in 2010. His docu skills aren't sloppy yet his flick crawls around in circles. Zero Days is very thought-out, very calculated, soberly streamlined, and intelligent to a fault. It gets to the point where Gibney makes Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock, and Steve James out to look like slipshod artists. In truth, you wonder if he actually required multiple takes with the real-life experts he was talking to.

Now does Alex keep his audience alert to his conspiracies, his swift ending, his relentless use of news archives, and his barrage of uniform, cinematic techniques? That remains to be seen. Does his methods channel his elongated film to accrue true greatness? Not exactly.

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Alex "I'm taking vigorous notes" Gibney fills the screen with lots of interviews (people are either not revealing much or hiding their faces), locales all over the world, slight visual storytelling, and images of code with Matrix-like tendencies. He goes off on tangents, even projecting an ocular segment akin to Blade Runner's cityscape. Ugh. In jest, there's almost too much information to take in. I'm no dummy but I was a bit addled. The eerie musical score helps a little but whatever entertainment value exists, it could only satisfy hardcore, cyber geeks. Oh and I almost forgot, Hillary Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush are all in the cast credits. Too bad you never really hear from them based on their scattershot, newsreel appearances. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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