Remarks: We Steal Secrets attempts to take on an objective tone, highlighting interviews from Assange's closest allies and detractors. Julian Assange himself did not participate in the documentary, and is even said to have denounced it. Interestingly, former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden does sit down to speak with Alex Gibney, and gives some pretty candid opinions about the state of intelligence gathering.
The sections focusing on Private Manning are more in-depth and compelling than most news reports I've seen, and are probably the film's strongest moments.
Although much slower paced than the trailer would have you think, the film deserves credit for not taking an activist angle and blindly jumping in to support just one side of the debate. Although some have questioned Gibney's representation of the facts, it's clear that We Steal Secrets is leaving the final judgment of Wikileaks and its controversies to the viewer.
It's simply too early to tell what the long term legal/social implications of the Manning case will mean for the US. And now with the current controversy regarding the NSA and whistleblower Edward Snowden, the debate about civil liberties, government secrets, and increasing state control is only going to intensify.
Who would like this film: This documentary is for you if you've been following the Wikileaks controversy, and if you have an interest in the ethical issues surrounding state secrets vs transparency. Although it's not the most visually or emotionally compelling documentary out there, We Steal Secrets definitely makes you think. It's an in-depth presentation that'll serve as a good launching point for discussion about a timely topic.
(2 and 1/2 stars out of 4)
Review written by: Joe Yang