Movie Review - Zero Days - Global Cyber Weapons Create Havoc

 

 

Zero Days - a cyber docu thriller

What do you do when your government launches a global war and keeps it a secret? 

 

This is the premise of the docu-drama Zero Days.  A cautionary tale of technology, power, unintended consequences, morality, and the dangers of secrecy. 

 

Award winner writer, director and producer Alex Gibney had started investigating "Stuxnet" - a self -replicating computer malware (worm) had been unleashed with the aim of destroying the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz.  But unable to control it, the creators found it had spread beyond their intended target.  

 

Alex Gibney, director of ZERO DAYS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

In milliseconds these weapons have the capacity to shut down or destroy infrastructure - this includes power grids, hospitals, transportation systems, water treatment plants.  What is even more astonishing is that it can occur from any distance and without the target's ability to find out who is responsible.

 

A scene from ZERO DAYS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

The story tracks Stuxnet from the first discovery of the malware to its global spread that even, supposedly, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was unaware of.   The complex virus fooled almost everyone and no one was really sure who was behind it. 

 

As a new generation of cyber weapons, it was only the beginning of a massive clandestine operation that involved the CIA, the NSA, US Military, and Mossad.  Clashing agendas, however, opened a Pandora's Box of cyber warfare.

 

A scene from ZERO DAYS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

What are these profound risks of this brave new world?   Interviews with high echelon players in both the U.S. and Israeli  secret services revealed new information about digital warfare and the safety it poses to the planet.  Many refused to acknowledge they knew anything about this worm.   They justified their silence with claims of national security.  Everything was "classified." 

 

While we have international agreements governing conventional warfare, as well as pacts for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, there are no protocols which cover cyber weapons.  Is this because the American government doesn't want to acknowledge its own cyber capabilities?  A frightening reality. 

 

A scene from ZERO DAYS, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Executive producers Diane Weyermann, Sarah Dowland, Jeff Skoll, joined producers Alex and Marc Shmuger, cinematographers Antonio Rossi and Brett Wiley,  and Andy Grieve who served as editor.  He was assisted by Hannah Vanderlan.  Special effects were from Framestore and Technicolor Postworks Specular Projects.  Original music was by Will Bates.  Researchers Charlotte Kaufman and Solvej Kruase assisted with the story. 

 

The film, produced by Magnolia Pictures, was an official selection of the 2016 Berlin Film Festival and will be released in select theatres and VOD on July 8, 2016.  

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