Last Friday I wrote about how easy it if for me to quit a movie halfway through, even if that movie is very good. Perhaps that is why I am coming to you this Monday morning with only having watched half of the movie I planned on writing about; because the last post either gave me an out that I am shamelessly capitalizing on, or this current post is an attempt to keep me accountable to my movie responsibilities. Whatever the reason, I watched an hour of The East last night and plan to finish it tonight.
From the beginning I got the overwhelming impression that this was going to be a politically charged movie. This wasn’t much of a leap in expectations considering the incredibly sad images of oil-soaked water fowl and the heavy, rhetoric-laden opening monologue blaming not only corporate entities for these crimes, but the people who run those corporations. Those people are guilty of murder, and people who are guilty of murder must be punished. That is the rationale of The East, an eco-terrorist group who punish those whose crimes often go overlooked. The film’s plot involves an undercover agent getting intel on the group, and this plays out about exactly the same as you would expect.
Aside from some half-baked throwaway lines about being uncomfortable and facing our transgressions, the members seem pretty content to point their guns at rich, corporate types and never at themselves or even society at large. What we have here is basically a Manichean conflict, where the good play banjos in dirty rags and jump trains, and the evil wear high-powered dress suits. This reluctance to look at the big picture and the readiness to put all of the weight and responsibility on a handful of people instead of coming to terms with the essential truth that we all participate in the oppression and destruction of innocents by virtue of living in a society based on that oppression, neuters this film’s very large political aspirations. Instead of a political thriller with gravitas, we get a totally unnecessary film that doesn’t know what it is or supposed to be; a heavy hand without a message. The jury is still out, but I am pretty confident in my assessment.
To top it off, The East contains one of the most ludicrously absurd, self-serious, and hilarious-because-it-wasn’t-supposed-to-be-funny scenes I have ever seen. If you know what I am talking about, feel free to sound off in the comments below, and if you don’t, well, just know there is at least one good reason to watch this movie.