2018, Movies

The Panama Papers (2018, Alex Winter)

This is a rather workmanlike documentary about the infamous “Panama Papers” which exposed a Panamanian bank’s tax evasion services for the super rich and for politicians. I watched it on a plane three weeks ago so I am not 100% sure of my comments.

The movie follows the original leak of the papers to their release and the consequences. It feels as though much of the dramatization of the leak and the release is recreated which lends the film a bit of artificiality. I get why they decided to tell the story this way as tax evasion is incredibly unsexy, but it does feel a little like they are trying to pretend they were present at the time of the investigation, which I don’t believe is true.

Also the film is pretty conventional from a filmmaking perspective and there’s not much to recommend it from that regard. In fact, the partner thought it might be a parody when she glanced over at it and saw the graphics used for the text on screen.

But it certainly covers its topic well enough, and one aspect that’s interesting is the coverage of how the story was released. The filmmakers do seem to think that’s almost as interesting as the subject. I don’t necessarily agree, but it’s still informative and interesting given the unprecedented collaboration necessary for the story.

This story is one of the most important of our era. I strongly believe that tax evasion is one of the biggest issues facing society in the 21st century (aside from climate change, obviously). And I think this story and tax evasion in general deserve a more compelling film than this one. This one is serviceable but it’s not the kind of film that really engages people enough to inspire change, in my opinion, and it would be nice if someone made a better film to really sell the crisis.

6/10

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