One of my favourite things that documentary films can do is inform.
Documentaries can open up new worlds not even imagined by audiences, giving new insight into history, current affairs and future predictions.
Sure fictional films can inform as well, but they will never be able to realise life so vividly and realistically compared to documentaries.
Basically, when one of your interviewees used to be the head of both the NSA and CIA, you know you’re going to finish this film with a lot of questions and not a lot of answers.
Zero Days is a documentary about cyber warfare, but more specifically Stuxnet: a ultra infectious mysterious super computer virus with a hidden agenda.
Alex Gibney has struck gold again after the great Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief with a slick stylistic political thriller with hacking at the forefront.
Gibney builds the mystery early in the film, with computer analysts uncovering a computer virus much larger and much more sophisticated than anything previously seen.
Computer analysts conclude that the virus originated from a nation state and further investigation showed that many people involved in its purpose ended up dead.
It’s fine you can say it: how on earth can something that sounds like the coolest action thriller film ever be actually real?
The main issue that a lot of people will have with this film is that to easily understand it, you will need some knowledge of computers and it’s workings. Though the interviewees do explain certain technical jargon and definitions as the film progresses, I could imagine viewers with less experience of computers either struggling with certain aspects or failing to hold interest.
For the likes of me however it was fascinating.
So much information about a world I could only imagine about, with viruses that can derail trains and explode pipe lines to teams of cyber policemen who maintain our safety from the millions of viruses that are detected all the time.
Which leads to Stuxnet, similar to a movie villain, it looms over the film. Countless interviewees that held some of the highest positions in national defense refuse to talk about it and it’s aim starts out as a mystery which should keep audiences on the edge of their seat for big reveal which comes in the shape of a computer generated hologram of a secret leak deep inside government ranks. Just writing about it makes me feel like Tom Clancy.
The visuals used between interviews and real world documents and footage ease the audience into a greater understanding of the events that Stuxnet sets into motion, yet once the whole picture is finalized, it will leave many feeling a little bit more paranoid than they would like.
The film ends with a powerful message, and once Stuxnet is explored and explained, it’s hard not to agree and rally up with it. I’ve even found myself noticing more and more news articles regarding cyber warfare in recent times. As a documentary it really opens your eyes to an ever growing problem with the increasing capabilities of technology and the devastating effects it can cause.
I think this film is important and timely in this time of political uncertainty:
It’s stated in the film that some of the most powerful people in world soon may have the power to a shut down a whole country… just by a click of a button.
Zero Days: 9/10