Review: Breakneck pace of Russian interference doc ‘Active Measures’ obscures scariest parts


The timing is such that we’ll probably be cresting soon on critical Trump-inspired documentaries, and Jack Bryan’s thorough, chilling rabbit-hole inquiry into our president’s connections to Russia — “Active Measures” — is as good a place as any to fuel one’s fear/outrage.

Presented as a crash course in accepting that the 2016 U.S. election’s results were the greatest espionage operation in world history, Bryan lays out a convincing story of how KGB-minded Vladimir Putin, to secure an economically feeble Russia’s dominance on the global stage, sicced oligarchs with money-laundering needs onto a cash-hungry, narcissistic real estate mogul with political ambitions. He then seeded Trump’s rise with a divisive, cyber-influence campaign straight out of the playbook used to quash independence campaigns in Ukraine and Georgia.

It’s a whirlwind story of the last 15 years in nefariousness from one scary geopolitical bad actor, and like all too many information-packed activist docs, it would rather frantically jump to the next conspiratorial fact than let any of its many disturbing points sink in. And yet the interviewee list of elected/bureaucratic/journalist doomsayers on this issue is admittedly top drawer, including Hillary Clinton, Mikheil Saakashvili, the late John McCain and ex-ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, whose own scary moment recently post-Helsinki worrying that Trump might deliver him to Putin for interrogation is the kind of treason-adjacent footnote to this whole saga that Bryan could probably use to generate a similarly distressing sequel.



‘Active Measures’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Playing: Starts Aug. 31, AMC Sunset 5, West Hollywood