Official Secrets

Katharine Gun was a low-level British intelligence translator who spent her free time screaming at the television because she hated that Tony Blair was going to war with Iraq in 2003. Then she got a chance to send some journalists a highly classified document. That would lead to criminal charges and a chance for Keira Knightley to play her in Official Secrets – even though Gun’s story isn’t really that compelling. Knightley’s terribly stern starring role has to eventually get pushed aside for hysterically crusading reporters covering the scoop that was sent to them via email. Then it’s left to Ralph Fiennes to try and salvage the saga while trying to out-intensify Knightley in his role as human rights attorney Ben Emmerson. None of that, however, manages to create any thrills. It’s the same problem that Ron Howard faced with 2008’s Frost/Nixon. That movie was stuck with working towards a big ’70s confrontation that history had already proven to be kind of meaningless. Official Secrets remains just as mired in puffery that (if you’ll pardon a 15-year-old spoiler) ends with the government declaring they really can’t be bothered with the whole thing. You’re supposed to believe that’s evidence of a big conspiracy. On film, however, it’s simply not as funny as the final lines of the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading.