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This Review Reveals Major Details About the Plot.

Based On Actual Events

Official Secrets (2019) on IMDb copying materialmailing material

Plot Overview

Early 2003, Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) a translator spying for British Govern­ment Com­muni­cations Head­quarters (GCHQ) reads a memo from Frank Cozo head of Regional Targets for American NSA requesting its allies listen for and for­ward them any dirt they can find on nine delegates of the Security Council who are holdouts blocking a UN resolution authorizing the western allies go to war with Iraq. A crisis of conscience leads her to violate The Official Secrets Act of 1989 by copying and mailing the memo to her peacenik friend Jasmine (MyAnna Buring) who turns it over to the press, hoping to get them to investigate further. This leads to controversy, trouble, and a trial.


She has confessed—to spare her co-workers endless interrogation—and Margaret Thatcher in the fallout from Falklands, closed the loop­hole allowing the British interests defense. Unless she wants to plead guilty and beg the court for leniency—she has after all been a model employee, and the dis­closure a one-off—her only viable defense is to argue she was trying to avert an immediate threat of much loss of life from an illegal war. At the time she revealed the memo, she main­tains, war with Iraq would have been illegal, lacking that second UN resolution. The documents she needs to support that contention, how­ever, are classified beyond the reach of the court. Mean­while, her Muslim husband—an easy target—is being harassed on account of his immigration status.

She is made out to be a hero in one helluva bind. From the Bible, we might look to, (Eccl. 5:8) “If thou seest the oppres­sion of the poor, and violent per­verting of judg­ment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.” The movie ends with footage of the actual Mrs. Gun, so it can't be too pie-in-the-sky.

Production Values

” (2019) was directed by Gavin Hood who co-wrote the screenplay with Gregory Bern­stein and Sara Bern­stein. It was based on the book, The Spy who Tried to Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion by Martha Mitchell and Thomas Mitchell. Keira Knightley plays the heroine Mrs. Gun in a very good performance. Ralph Fiennes is excellent as the non-profit lawyer representing Gun. Of special note is an MI5 agent played by Peter Guiness.

MPAA rated it R for language. The film consists of a rotation of various narratives set in home, office, field, and press room, sprinkled with historical, archival footage. The full wide­screen display is not properly utilized, so one will not miss it when viewed in a narrower format. It's a movie with low-level lighting, limited focal depth, and fixed camera and compositions. There's a dearth of trick shots, which helps us avoid distractions. It's eminently easy to follow.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

The film excels in exploring Katharine's personal conflict of conscience. I came of military age during America's Vietnam conflict, so it's just the same old, same old to me, a sorry state of affairs. But I appreciate heroic stands, which we've certainly got here. If that interests you, go for it.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Special effects: Wake up and smell the 1990s technology. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.