By Don Morton
Whistleblowing up a shitstorm
August 28, 2020
True story. In 2003, British intelligence specialist Katharine Gun, knowing full well the price she would have to pay, leaked to the press an illegal plot by the NSA to seek compromising information on UN Security Council members for the purpose of blackmailing them into supporting an invasion of Iraq. The move ignited an international scandal and put Gun and her family at great risk.
Keira Knightley is not my favorite actress. But she shines here in the lead role, offering a spot-on blend of courage, trepidation and believability. Rhys Ifans is excellent as a scruffy reporter, and Ralph Fiennes, in a relatively minor role, nails it as Gun’s highly esteemed and slyly effective defense barrister, especially in the final scene.
Director is Gavin Hood (Ender’s Game, Eye in the Sky) has fashioned a taut, briskly paced and highly relevant thriller/procedural that avoids romanticizing and sermonizing, and manages to be thoroughly entertaining on top of all that.
As whistleblower stories go, this approaches The Insider and The Post. The underlying, sobering truth is of course that the war happened anyway.