Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Movie review: The 5th eye

But the  The 5th Eye is at its best telling the story of the whiskery earnest trio who popped the bubble on the Waihopai spy base.
But the The 5th Eye is at its best telling the story of the whiskery earnest trio who popped the bubble on the Waihopai spy base.

Documentary directors Errol Wright and Abi King-Jones brought clarity, perspective and humanity to their previous feature, Operation 8 about the 2007 police raids in Tuhoe country. They've done so again in The 5th Eye about New Zealand's role in the Five Eyes spy alliance.

Much of this will feel familiar to anyone who has followed how the Government increased the GSCB's surveillance powers despite its embarrassments in the Kim Dotcom and Waihopai Three cases or the NZ connections to the revelations of Eric Snowden.

Sometimes the dots don't quite join into anything conclusive or new. And relying heavily on news footage, much of this feels like we're being reminded of what happened - if we only paid attention - than being told anything new.

A scene from the documentary, The 5th Eye.
A scene from the documentary, The 5th Eye.

But the doc is at its best telling the story of the whiskery earnest trio who popped the bubble on the Waihopai spy base then, having convinced a jury of their protest principles, were found not guilty.

It's a curious narrative touch to have them recounting how they got over the fence at Waihopai after the court proceedings. But in an era when Facebook petitions are deemed activism, seeing the clear-eyed sincere thinking behind their action inspires respect and admiration.

It's not the only doc about Five Eyes on offer - Chasing Great director Justin Pemberton's slick NZ-Canadian production I Spy (With My Five Eyes) is now available to watch online (ispydoc.com) and comes with an impressive array of international talking heads and a voiceover by Lucy Lawless.

It's a curious narrative touch to have them recounting how they got over the fence at Waihopai after the court proceedings which is documented on The 5th Eye.
It's a curious narrative touch to have them recounting how they got over the fence at Waihopai after the court proceedings which is documented on The 5th Eye.

Both docs, though, share the insights and rely heavily on the investigative work by Nicky Hager. Both remind that in matters of NZ intelligence playing dumb, no one's smarter than Hager.

Directors: Errol Wright and Abi King-Jones
Running time:112 mins
Rating: Exempt
Verdict: Smart if déjà vu take on the foibles of NZ intelligence

- TimeOut

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