Alex Gibney has become our most dogged, prolific cinematic journalist—and one of the few things getting in his way is how much he wants his audience to realize it. His latest documentary explores the story of the STUXnet worm, a malicious computer virus that—although nobody will admit it on the record—was clearly created in a joint U.S./Israeli operation intended to bring down Iran’s nuclear enrichment capability. Along the way, he touches on fascinating, potentially alarming topics: computer security engineers piecing together the origins of STUXnet; the history of Iran’s nuclear program; the secretive nature of the American attempts to develop offensive cyber-warfare capabilities. It’s mostly great material, building to the potential threat to our own security of this kind of unchecked virtual warfare, and Gibney has a facility for making his civics lessons visually interesting. The only down-sides come when he over-emphasizes his own voice—“I was starting to get pissed off,” he sternly comments about people refusing to comment—or over-dramatizes by juxtaposing a burst balloon with an atomic mushroom cloud. A serious movie about a serious subject doesn’t demand repeated reminders that THIS IS SERIOUS.
Director: Alex Gibney
Writer: Alex Gibney
Producer: Marc Shmuger, Alex Gibney, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann and Sarah Dowland