Monday, March 20, 2017

Movie Review: "Zero Days" (2016)

Movie"Zero Days"
Director: Alex Gibney
Year: 2016
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

An exposé on the hacking of an Iranian uranium enrichment facility by the US and Israeli governments.

"Zero Days" is a documentary written and directed by Alex Gibney, who is known for his numerous other hard-hitting documentaries including the fabulous "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief." This film explores a piece of malware known as the Stuxnet virus. This was a piece of software designed to replicate and attack autonomously. It is said to have been developed by the United States goverment along with Israel. Its intended purpose was to infiltrate the computer system at uranium enrichment facilities in Iran and cause the centrifuges to malfunction, essentially self-destructing them remotely.

Much of the film consists of interviews with independent cyber security engineers who investigated the Stuxnet virus and connected the dots to try and piece together just what the hell they stumbled upon without even really looking for it. These interviews explain what the virus is, what it does, and where they believe it came from. There are also interviews conducted by Gibney with an NSA operative, though their identity is kept secret. This person gives first hand knowledge of the goings on of the agency in full details, explaining just how crazy and how deep the scope of their research, investigation, and surveillance actually goes. The film goes into how Stuxnet got out of hand and spread beyond its intended purpose, and how the discovery of such a virus gave US and Israeli enemies unintended access to it once it their operation was compromised.

In many ways, "Zero Days" is a terrifying film when you hear about all the stuff countries can do to each other via the relm of cyberspace, how the development of programs such as "Nitro Zeus," which could potentially have the ability the shut off general civilian-used utilites with the stroke of a few keys could happen within the span of our lifetime. It's enough to keep you on the edge of your seat and question our reliance on computers, technology, and the internet, all while we write this up on our computers for publishing online. Without the Internet, where would we be? Everyone's lives are now so ingrained into and onto the world wide web, we wonder what would happen to us as individuals and us as a society if it all went away tomorrow? How many of us would lose the ability to even function at a normal capacity without telling the world what kind of muffin you had for breakfast?

"Zero Days" is a gripping documentary, though it does have many slow points as it gets bogged down in hardcore computer jargon frequently. It is still a very eye-opening movie, especially in the wake of the thousands of documents published via Wikileaks about such events.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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