The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
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Risk poses knotty questions regarding documentary filmmaking ethics, but remains consistently compelling despite its flaws.
All Critics (97)
| Top Critics (31)
| Fresh (78)
| Rotten (19)
A serviceable portrait of vanity.
A jaw-dropping profile of one man's battle with world governments, common decency and his own out-of-control ego.
There's no doubt that the world needs more iconoclasts, whistle-blowers and anti-authoritarian rabble-rousers. But it deserves better than Julian Assange.
Interesting if uneven ...
"Risk" makes a case that character is stronger than idealism or ideology - that who you are will always trump what you hope to achieve.
The most salient feature of Risk is how Poitras remains non-judgmental throughout.
Risk is an interesting portrait of a contentious figure, but it becomes completely bogged down in an ethical quagmire.
There's something unsettling about a man who claims to wage a war against secrets yet refuses to be open about himself, and Poitras is only able to find the slightest cracks in that façade.
Seemingly pieced together by spare parts and competing ideas.
Poitras lacked either the nerve or the time to make of herself a truly unreliable narrator, and so a film with the potential for two unreliable narrators falters for having none.
Fascinating as Assange goes from being simply an interesting yet controversial new celebrity figure to an increasingly ungovernable and unlikable character.
There's nothing wrong with Poitras wanting to delve further into what makes Assange tick; it's just a half-hearted attempt, diffusing the primary through line.
Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras won an Oscar for her 2014 film Citizenfour that followed Edward Snowden in his last hours as a free man. It was exciting, insightful, and had an exclusivity that made it a must-watch for a pertinent political issue. Apparently, she made that movie in between work she had already started on a feature documentary about Julian Assange and Wikileaks back in 2011. Risk, the finished product years in the making, is clearly no Citizenfour. The one selling point it has is its exclusivity, being trusted alongside Assange and recording all sorts of personal footage. Except what we end up getting is meaningless stuff like Assange getting a haircut and being interviewed by Lady Gaga. Strangely, the most compelling moments of the documentary occur off screen or are hastily cast aside in voice over by Poitras. The filmmaker herself was drawn into the story when she started having a sexual relationship with one of the head Wikileaks guys, a man who she later says was abusive to her friend and was accused of being sexually abusive to others. That angle should have been the focal point of the movie, a filmmaker acknowledging she's lost her objectivity and questioning the motives of the men who might have good ideals but not be good people. There aren't any new insights into Assange or Wikileaks or its fallout, and its connections to the 2016 presidential election hack, which would provide the film with a spark of relevancy, are haphazardly addressed in a truncated closing ten minutes. There really isn't a compelling reason for this documentary to exist, and the reasons it should have don't materialize. Go watch Alex Gibney's Wikileaks doc, or Poitras' own Citizenfour instead.
Nate's Grade: C
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