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Review - Zero Days

By midlandsmovies, Jul 14 2016 10:55PM

Zero Days (2016) Dir Alex Gibney

After his Scientology expose ‘Going Clear’ being one of our favourite documentaries of 2015 (review here) the prolific director turns towards more dark secrets in this analysis of cyber warfare. For context, a “zero-day” is a computer term meaning a software vulnerability that hackers exploit to adversely affect computer programs or networks. The developer has zero days to correct the error once found.

And so in this riveting documentary Alex Gibney takes the viewer through technical jargon before ratcheting up tension like a dramatic thriller as a created virus is unleashed on the public. Specifically, Gibney proposes this was a joint US-Israeli effort to destabilise the nuclear power plants of Iran.

Interesting and exciting, the documentary first explains the details of the virus – which is repeatedly referred to as one “never seen before” – before showing how lines of code could actually result in breaking (and even exploding) centrifuges in a country miles away. Whilst all the while hiding itself (and its creators) from scrutiny.

I didn’t much like presentation of one witness who had been CGI’d to look like the increase-the-boobs-size-scene in Weird Science and whose subsequent look undermined a compelling argument making them much less believable.

There was understandable anonymity for many but Gibney uses that fact and other overt witness statements like “I cannot answer that” to build his case that there is even more going on under the surface. A hush-hush story with all the twists of a spy thriller, the film could have been trimmed by 20 minutes but this is an astonishing documentary.

A fantastic journey of code-makers and breakers, Zero Days goes beyond its niche technical audience and becomes a successful critique on global warfare in the 21st Century.


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