In the category of movies that gear on secrets and political corruption which are based on actual events, Official Secrets is a thriller that is faithful to sticking to its facts and evidence regarding Katharine Gun. Official Secrets is one of those movies that leaves viewers thinking about the consequences of actions involving the government and foreign countries. It is a thought-provoking, daring, psychological rollercoaster ride of deceit, dishonesty, and legal factors that causes viewers to wonder what will have the most consequences for Katharine Gun. Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Ralph Fiennes, Rhys Ifans, and Matt Smith are all the right cast members for this movie, and it is directed by Gavin Hood. He directed Eye in the Sky (2015) which was quite good, but this is better.
The plot of Official Secrets is the true story of Katharine Gun (played by Keira Knightley). Katharine is a British whistleblower and spy who finds information that she believes the world needs to be aware of. She comes across a confidential NSA memo that contains information linked to both the US and UK regarding illegal spying involving members of the UN Security Council. The goal of the memo is to blackmail small, undecided member states into voting for war. Katharine leaks that information out to the public and it falls in the hands of the journalist Martin Bright (played by Matt Smith). Martin comes together with his journalism colleagues to write an article and uncover more confidential information about the leaked memo.
Tension starts to rise as the film uncovers more important secrets. Martin’s colleague, Ed Vuliamy (played by Rhys Ifans), is serious about the story and wants the world to know. The problem is that Katharine is initially anonymous that she leaked the information. However, she does admit she is at fault once Martin’s article is written about what she leaked. With the new article and Katharine admitting she is the one who leaked the information regarding the political corruption, Official Secrets opens many doors to frustration, revenge, and trust. And, once Katharine admits what she has done she becomes the target instead of the information she has leaked.
During Official Secrets, there are moments where I thought there was going to be safety and progress for Katharine Gun, but my expectations were often wrong. That is because her government job working for a spy department allowed confidentiality to be waved in many circumstances. She seeks legal advice from a lawyer, but then other members of the government inform her that she is only digging herself in a deeper hole because the legal advice creates a more negative image. Her lawyer, Ben Emmerson (played by Ralph Fiennes), is up for the challenge it takes to help Katharine get out of the issue she has created for herself. That is because in his mind he knows that she meant no harm, she simply wanted the world to be a safe place which is why she leaked the information.
What makes this film the most intriguing is the dialogue which is in-depth centering on the central conflict. Viewers are curious about who is being more serious with Katharine regarding her legal troubles. As Katharine is frustrated with the media, viewers witness her yelling at her TV, “Just because you’re the Prime Minister, it doesn’t mean you get to make up your own facts.” Clearly, Katharine knows much more about how politics work in the world and the reasons behind the corruption during this time period. Katharine is the fighter in this movie.
The film’s main character is not the only one who is dealing with issues regarding corruption. The people who work for the newspaper do as well. Martin and Ed start to feel that their sources may not be accurate regarding the leaked information. Ed has the most negative feelings towards the media which make him argumentative and confrontational in most every conversation. Martin, on the other hand, shows he is stressed and serious, but he is quite mellow. Official Secrets characterization also adds intensity to various scenes throughout the film.
I find Official Secrets to be one of the best films of the year so far. I walked in thinking this movie looked but good had the feelings that it would be predictable. But it is not predictable, it keeps viewers thinking about which conversation is most important for the film’s main conflict and if that conversation is ever going to be revisited. The film has lots of irony and personification where it feels like viewers are reading a book and putting the pieces together. I loved this movie and I hope it is one that people see, especially because it is based on actual events. Three and a half stars.