2022, Movies

Skandal! Bringing Down Wirecard (2022, James Erskine)

This is a wild story, of how a seemingly legitimate German company (in some ways the German Paypal, but more than that) committed massive fraud. It’s a story I somehow missed while it was happening.

The film does a pretty good job of telling an engaging story about how this fraud was discovered. Now, I eat this stuff up, but it’s a pretty good fusion of some fairly cliche documentary tropes, such as talking heads and using comic book panels. Normally I’m not a fan of using comic book panels in documentaries – an increasingly common trope – but here I think it works reasonably well. (I guess I got used to it.)

It’s a really crazy story and so it’s fairly easy to make it compelling. There are more wrinkles here than you might expect, which keeps your attention.

But that’s also where the documentary gets a little bit messy. There’s so much going on here and sometimes they don’t give us enough detail. Notably, the anecdote from Braun’s neighbour doesn’t really add anything to the story, whereas more detail about what exactly was going on with the fraud would have been appreciated.

Now, some of this is not the filmmakers’ faults, because the story isn’t over. The likely mastermind behind all of this is now on the run, and they don’t appear to know exactly what he was up to.

But I still think a better film might have tried to tease out more about why the company cooked its books, whether because it was just no longer profitable or because money was being funneled somewhere.

Still, it’s a crazy story and a good enough telling of the story to be worth you time. And I think that, given the nature of where the story was when the film was finished, you can’t be too critical about the lack of detail and resolution.


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