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

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump in the documentary “Active Measures.”
(Super LTD)

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