A murky portrait of Obama emerges in Zero Days, Alex Gibney’s alarming and thrillingly vital exploration of cyberwarfare. The film attempts to get to the bottom of Stuxnet, a mysterious computer virus that wreaked gradual havoc on an Iranian nuclear power plant from 2009-10. Though it’s now widely known that the malware was jointly developed by US and Israeli intelligence, neither government has admitted this. Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of the documentary is that Gibney, who expertly infiltrated the notoriously slippery Church of Scientology in last year’s Going Clear, is shut down at every turn in his quest for hard facts, even years after the event. Though the attack was greenlit under Bush, this situation is a clear consequence of the oft-quoted fact that Obama has prosecuted more individuals under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined. Gibney makes a virtue of his handicap, weaving together fragmentary accounts into a seamlessly riveting narrative. Ultimately, Zero Days is a level-headed but impassioned plea for an open international conversation about issues which, if left unresolved, might genuinely bring about a third world war. And like it or not, it’s a conversation the current US administration has taken great pains to censor.
Zero Days | Directed Alex Gibney (USA 2016) documentary. Starts September 1